Effect Audio Axiom

mochill

Headphoneus Supremus
Audiophile basshead iem with tunability
Pros: Easy to drive
Easy to repair if needed
Easy to change to different cable connection such as mmcx or 2 pin
Sound quality changes with source quality but main signature is audiophile basshead.
Build quality
Cons: Price for simplicity.
Which it was $500 or less
The Axiom is Effect Audio’s latest groundbreaking in-ear monitors. The Axiom is more than just a technical audio device. This is an experience product that grows with you; its modular design empowering the most discerning of users with absolute control and scalability.

This is our statement on what an personal audiophile product of the 21st century should be like: embodying all of the virtues of sustainability, versatility and user experience in one product.

This is probably the first personal audio product in the world to be designed with sustainable features from the moment of its conception. In addition to minimised packaging and included accessories, this is also the first in-ear monitors in the world to include a Modular Unit (MU) System that promises maximum scalability and user interactivity for years to come.

IMPORTANT: Please note that every Axiom will not ship with a stock cable. Customers are highly encouraged to reuse whatever they have or may also choose to opt-in to our perpetual Cable Bundle programme.

Every Axiom is optimised for a wide variety of usage applications, genres of sonic content and for extended hours of listening. The shell and nozzle are the collective results of extensive in-house research and ergonomic studies before arriving at these designs.

The sound signature can also be described as non-fatiguing; with a reference-class voicing. This comes from many years of experience and input from audiophiles everywhere as the most versatile and user-friendly design. Customers are more than welcome to craft their own sounds using their favourite accessories.

Every unboxing of the Axiom to be a unique adventure.

From the moment of unboxing to the first listen of the product, Axiom customers can expect to be taken on an exciting adventure through the mystical Orient. Numerous design elements harking back to ancient Far East are interwoven with multisensory experiences, awaiting to be discovered.

SPECIFICATION
Driver system: 2-way BA-DD hybrid

Drivers: 12mm magnesium dynamic driver with LCP suspension (bass, mids),
twinned FK-series Knowles Balanced armatures (high frequencies)

Linear Frequency response (-6dB): 20 to 16,800 Hz

Crossover frequency: 4,800 Hz

Crossover architecture: Proprietary RC architecture

Impedance: 32Ω @ 1 kHz

Sensitivity: 112 dB/mW @ 1 KHz

Weight (without cable): 10.2 g
MU System Modules:MMCX and CIEM (2-Pin)

I like to thank effects audio for sending me the axiom for review and wanting my honest opinion of this iem. I was excited when I heard an iem with titanium housing, big DD with LCP and magnesium dome. And the company describing the iem to be reference with bass , which is something I always looking for iem new gears. This iem include a special eartips called epro which is one of my favorites tips to use because how soft it is and how wide it is it helps with texture of sound without changing it negatively.

Effects audio was king enough to send me a pair of new cable called vogue series maestro which is an $99 litz copper cable and an upgrade to the old aeries cable. It's much softer cable which I was looking for.

Sound:

Bass:
The bass on the axiom can sound very powerful and deep to tight and controlled all depending on the genre of music as well as the quality of sources. But one thing it definitely doesn't bleed to the mid range so we are good in the aspect. Bass is fast as well as very textured.

Midrange:

Midrange is open and three dimensional , it can sound very close to very far away depending on the recording. It's never veiled or recessed . It's natural and smooth

Treble:
Treble is extremely cheap and sparkly. Some times can get sparkly. It's I clean and open and speed it fast and not slow.

Soundstage and imaging:

Soundstage and imaging is excellent on this iem all are above average and close to endgame level .

Conclusion:
I'm happy that I was part on the tour to review this beautiful iem which definitely impressed me . I can't say anything negative accept the price and lack of cable but besides that. The rest are excellent.
  • Like
Reactions: corgifall

Kerouac

Headphoneus Supremus
Effect Audio Axiom: The Magical Modular Tour
Pros: Creative (though basic) packaging
Opportunity to order a discounted cable
Beautiful design (incl. Hetian Jade faceplates)
Very good sounding (sub & mid) lows
Great sounding vocals (with silver module)
Good soundstage width and terrific imaging and separation
Modular tuning options to choose from, with even more to follow in the future
Scales up with higher quality (DSD / 24bit FLAC) files
Cons: No stock cable included (not an issue for me personally)
Only 3 sizes of ePro silicone eartips (which luckily worked fine for me)
Treble can get too hot with the black modules and a bit too recessed with the silver ones
Soundstage could use a bit more depth to my taste
Introduction

So, there I was, still catching my breath from a recent Gotham rollercoaster review ride. But somehow it didn't take that long before a new writing opportunity came along. Its name this time? The Effect Audio Axiom!

Axiom information on the EA website: https://www.effectaudio.com/axiom

From the moment of unboxing to the first listen of the product, Axiom customers can expect to be taken on an exciting adventure through the mystical Orient. Numerous design elements harking back to ancient Far East are interwoven with multisensory experiences, awaiting to be discovered.

Wow, that was quite a mysterious and tempting description, straight from the horse's mouth. But when I received the Axiom (demo unit) myself, I could instantly see, feel and even smell what the above promises were all about. A big 'Thank you!' goes out to Nic and the folks at EA for giving me the opportunity to experience this exciting audio adventure myself this way. EA also offered me to keep the Axiom for a discount, after I mentioned that I had completed the review.

The price of the Axiom is set at US$1.499. Inside the Axiom there is a 12mm magnesium dynamic driver, covering the lows and mids. Plus two balanced armature drivers for the high frequencies. For the dynamic driver I took approx 70-100 hours to burn it in.

When I received the Axiom, there were two coloured (green and red) boxes. Now, let's have a look at what I received exactly:
Axiom 01.jpg


Green Box contents: the imho beautiful designed (with unique hand cut Hetian Jade faceplates) Axiom IEM itself, with both black, original tuned MMCX (pre-installed) and 2-pin connector modules. Three sizes (S/M/L) of ePro silicone tips, which turned out to work fine for me. A small screwdriver to switch between the different kind of modules, and last but not least a delightful smelling kind of tea packet. Which took my memories immediately back to the time that I visited the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands, when I was backpacking through Malaysia many, many years ago. To me this was a very welcome and heartwarming memory.

Red Box contents: the 2-pin connector, silver modules, which are differently tuned compared to the original black ones. But later more on that. Oh, and there were also some extra tiny screws included, which might come handy later on in Axioms life.

Axiom 02.jpg


After I had unpacked the above, I was very curious how this IEM would sound. But of course listening was a bit tricky without an IEM cable. Effect Audio, being well known as a cable manufacturer for years, made the choice to not include a stock cable (which people might not use afterall) with the Axiom. But they do offer the opportunity to order a higher quality, discounted cable of choice (EVO 1, EVO 10 or Cleopatra) at their site instead.

For me this was not an issue at all, as I already have (more than) enough cables over here. And before I tried some of my other EA cables, I grabbed the first (spare) cable that I came across in my closet. Being the (€99) silver stock, 2-pin and very thin / flexible one, that came with my ES Onyx some months ago. This also immediately proved to be a solid synergy match to my ears. Which means that you don't have to invest that much extra on a cable to get a good result with the Axiom to start with imo.

I'm aware that the included ePro silicone tips were some kind of 'hit or miss' for other people out there. But like I mentioned before, the stock silicone (M worked best for me) tips gave me a good fit / seal and therefore sound. And while I've also tried my 'all time favorite' JVC Spiral Dots tips (and some others, just out of curiosity), I eventualy returned to the original stock ones, which I'm still using as I'm typing this.

Now, let's move on to the sources that I used for listening to the Axiom. Most of the listening (approx 70%) was done from a Lotoo Paw Gold Touch. This is probably one of the most neutral and detail revealing, reference DAPs around. After some listening I found that the PMEQ setting called 'Headphone' had excellent synergy with the Axiom. So I basically sticked to that one later on. The other 30% of my listening was done from a 'RedWine modded' AK380cu, which has a much warmer, almost tube like, signature from itself. Both mentioned DAPs were very capable to get the best, regarding sound quality, out of the Axiom imo.

When I start to listen to a new IEM, I usually start with some albums that I do know very well, to check how it performs. These albums are 'The Dark Side of the Moon' by Pink Floyd, 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac and last but not least 'Mezzanine' by Massive Attack.

Axiom 03.jpg

Seriously? How real (also soundwise) can it get!

Although these are three completely different kind of albums / genres, by listening to these albums I always get a solid impression of how good an IEM performs in various signature departments. Normally, after this, I switch to listening to all songs on my DAPs in 'Shuffle All' mode. But this time I created a special playlist, according to something that I dediced that had to be the theme of my Axiom review over here. The songs of that playlist will pass by as YT linked content, during this review. But I have to mention that I listened to all these selected songs as FLAC files on my DAPs, when I describe the things that I heard myself.

So, what is the theme of this Axiom review then? While the scent of tea already took me back to Malaysia and someone at EA wrote: Axiom customers can expect to be taken on an exciting adventure through the mystical Orient. The choice for me was obvious. I decided to take the Axiom on a cultural and musical trip, based on some of my own travels and experiences through life, which would end up in the Orient.

So, what are we waiting for? Let's pack our imaginary bags and go on a visual and listening trip together, shall we?

GIF 01.gif


Now, please take it away Mark Sandman (RIP) with your almost hypnotic voice, accompanied by some magnificent, lazy sounding saxophone tones...



Hey, wait a minute... 'headlong into the irresistible orbit' ? That ain't the kind of trip that I had in mind for this review! I didn't mean the kind of Magical Tour that makes you wear a rabbit suit or makes you believe that you are 'The Walrus'. No, this tour should be a more geographical and cultural one, and our goal should be to reach the mystical Orient!

Though on our way over there, I would like to start with two European stopovers. And the first one of those will be:

The Surrealistic Part of Spain

Aaah Spain, I've been there on so many holidays and city trips. The first time I was only 10 years old when I flew (for the first time in my life) to Ibiza with my parents and younger brother, long before it became known as a party island. Later on I also lived for half a year on the island Tenerife and visited almost all islands surrounding it. Spain, the land of tapas, rioja, the beautiful Gaudi buildings and Parc Güell in Barcelona, the lovely palm tree gardens of the Royal Alcazar in Seville and running for your life (nope, I haven't done that myself yet) through the streets of Pamplona.

But it's also the land of famous painters like Pablo Picasso & Salvador Dali. Now, especially the last one had a surprising way of creating surrealistic, theme paintings.

GIF 02.gif


One thing that I remember of my visit to the Dali Museum in Figueres, is that there were lying some chaotic drawings on a table and you couldn't recognize anything in those drawings. It looked like nothing else than complete chaos on paper. But on the end of these papers there were standing some round metal reflecting tubes. And when you looked inside those tubes, you saw the beautiful and perfect paintings in there. It completely freaked me out! How on earth did he do that? He clearly had a different kind of (upgraded) brain and was blessed to have the gift of thinking and creating completely 'outside the box'.

Axiom 04.jpg


Now, let's have a look at the modular concept of the Axiom.

This is also the first in-ear monitors in the world to include a Modular Unit (MU) System that promises maximum scalability and user interactivity for years to come.

Holy Moly, what a creative 'also out of the box' way of approaching an IEM. Different signature flavours by simply using different modules on the same IEM? Kudos to the one(s) that invented that at EA, great job imho!

Axiom 05.jpg


At the moment there are two differently tuned modules, and as I've understood there will be more to follow in the future. So, what are the differences in sound signature between those two already excisiting modules? This was what I noticed so far:

The black (OG) module: this is the original module, which came in both MMCX and 2-pin connector style. I would describe it as a dynamic, energetic and V shaped tuned signature. Now, I especially do like the performance of the (sub)lows here. It's clear that there is a DD driver inside to get a more holographic (3D) feel to its signature. The mids are sounding fine, but slightly recessed and sometimes the treble gets a bit too hot (even slightly harsh on my LPGT) to my ears. Soundstage is pretty wide, but could use a bit of extra depth (it ain't that bad, but there's still some room for improvement) to my taste. Imaging and (left/right) separation is exceptionally good to my ears. Such a pleasure to listen with closed eyes and to be able to point out where various instruments are located in that imaginary space around you.

The silver (YU) module: this module is tuned in a more balanced and natural way to my ears. A bit rolled off (but because of this, also not harsh anymore) treble, and the mids / vocals become more forward, compared to the black modules. Vocals sound more intimate, intense and emotional this way, which I do prefer. Lows, soundstage, imaging and separation keep performing on about the same high level to my ears, but timbre gets a more natural feel (instead of dynamic fun) to it overall.

So, in the end if I would have to pick between the black and silver modules, I would prefer the silver ones myself. And because of this I also decided that I would mainly listen with the silver modules to describe what I hear in the songs, that will pass by later on in this review.

Now, let's get back to Spain. When I lived in Tenerife I once met a guy from the UK who introduced me to the album 'Sketches of Spain' by Miles Davis. At that period in my life I mainly listened to rock and alternative / indie music. So, this to me was a welcome genre chance and somehow that album seemed to capture a part of the Spanish atmosphere that appealed to me. I remember that I especially liked this (Solea means Sunny) song:



At the start of this song there are a lot of high frequency (trumpet and harp) notes. As I mentioned before, this is not the strongest point of the Axiom. But in the 2nd minute of the song these notes get company from (marching) drums, horns and bass and the song really comes alive to my ears from that moment on. Instrument separation and imaging is especially very good now and I can almost feel the Spanish heat, while Miles trumpet guides us through the rest of this musical Spanish scenery.

Now, for the ones who want the 'Extended Tour' (at no extra costs), here's a musical connection. Morphine also wrote a song, on the same album that we started with, called Miles Davis' Funeral.

Although this is a very short song (especially compared to the full 12 minutes of Solea), there's a lot going on to pay attention over here. The rain in the background at the start, the crying guitar, the almost 'rattle snake like' sound effects and the lively, hand played drums are very well portrayed here by the Axiom. The soundstage also sounds very wide here, with average depth. I can feel the grief in this song. And now I think of it, maybe they called their album 'Cure for Pain' because of this? Who knows...

OK then, from here we're going to leave Spain behind and we move on to or second stop:

Ancient Greece

GIF 03.gif


When I was a young kid, I can remember that reading the adventures of Odysseus made a huge impression on me. While he traveled around for ± 10 year between many Greek isles, he and his men faced various dangers (Cyclopes and Sirens, to name a few) that triggered my fantasy.
Later on in life I visited various Greek isles myself, Chios ended up as my favorite one of those so far, as that island wasn't influenced too much by tourists (like me, I sadly have to admit) and mainly Greek people themselves went there for their holidays. Because of this it still seemed to breath some kind of ancient, unspoiled purity when I was there.

Now, Greece is famous for its mythology stories. And one of those (maybe less known) is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell dedicated a whole album (and later on also a theatre production) on that story. Here's a song that appears on her (2010) album 'Hadestown' called 'Hey Little Songbird'



The reason that I picked this particular song from that album, is that it shows that both low male vocals and high female vocals are very well delivered by the Axiom. The dark vibration in the male (almost Tom Waits like) low voice and the clarity in the (almost Agnes Obel like) female voice, while the instruments are dancing around them. It all just sounds superb to me!

And here is another 'Extended Tour connection' between songs. This time it's David Sylvian with his Orpheus song.

Listening to this, it's almost like Sylvians voice is floating along on the waves of that nostalgic and captivating song. I also love the way how the Axiom portraits his warm voice here, which sounds less nasal then in his Japan (which will be comming up next) period.

Besides the fact that the word Axiom comes from Greek mythology, Effect Audio also have named a lot of their cable line up in an ancient Greek way. I tested the next three EA cables on synergy with the Axiom, using the silver modules. For this testing I mainly used songs from the same three albums (DSOTM, Rumours & Mezzanine) that I mentioned earlier in this review.

Axiom 06.jpg


Ares II (on the left)
Compared to the silver Onyx stock cable that I started with, the (copper) Ares II has a warmer, slightly darker and full bodied signature. I think that the (sub)lows are even improved a bit by using this cable. Treble sounds a bit less bright, so this certainly would be an advantage in combination with the black modules. There are not so much noticeable differences in soundstage or imaging to my ears. So, the Ares II would also be a very safe cable choice here imo.

EVO 10 (in the middle)
Now it's time for one of EA's more recently launched cables: the (mix of gold and silver plated copper wires) EVO 10. At first I had this cable on a loan (thanks again Nic!) to try and I liked it so much that I picked one up myself, within some weeks after that.
The EVO 10 matches very good with the Axiom to my ears. Bass seems to tighten up a bit and there's more (micro) details to be noticed. There's also slightly more sparkle in its treble, which is very welcome with the silver modules. Soundstage width seems to expand a bit, imaging gets even better and overall this is certainly an improvement imo compared to the Ares II or the silver cable that I got used to before.

Horus (on the right)
Although the last match already sounded pretty amazing, this one just struck me as the winning synergy combination of them all! While using the (gold plated silver) Horus especially treble and details improved even further to my ears. Soundstage also seems to expand (width for sure and a bit of depth as well) even compared to the EVO 10. Imaging sounds incredible good now and Axioms tonality becomes slightly more natural sounding at the same time with Horus. So, overall there's a lot to like here!

Now, my Horus has always been 'married' to my EE Phantom, and I sincerely hope that this won't result in a 'cable difforce' later on. But hey, maybe both IEMs should just get used to share this cable partner from now on, in some kind of new polygamous audio relationship. And maybe the three of them can even learn to live happily ever after that way? Well, I guess that time will tell eventually.

So, let's move on in the meantime to our third and final destination:

The Mystical Orient

Axiom customers can expect to be taken on an exciting adventure through the mystical Orient.

GIF 04.gif


Question: what's the Orient to be considered for somebody (like me) who lives in Europe? My good ol' friend Google told me that the Orient is a term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe. So, I guess that means that it basically includes all Asian countries for me.

As I was lucky to be able to visit and explore many countries and cultures in my life, I've always kept a soft spot for Asian countries. Indonesia (2x Bali), Thailand (some wonderful tropical isles over there) and especially Malaysia. That last country offered me some completely different experiences, within the 6 weeks of backpacking when I was there. I started in Kuala Lumpur (stayed in China Town), moved on to Taman Negara (which seems to be the oldest rainforrest in the world) and after that to the Cameron Highlands (tea plantations on the hills and some nice hiking trails over there) before I ended up on the tropical isles Perhentian Kecil (which became my 'all time' favorite tropical island at that time) and Tioman.

Anyway, I've always loved the Asian people (so friendly, helpfull and polite) and their spicy food as well. I also consider its beautiful nature stunning compared to where I live. I've also been some times to South America (Brasil & Suriname) and I've even lived for quite some time in the Caribbean (Martinique & Saint Martin), but my fondest memories still go back to my visits to Asia. But my friend Mr. G. also informed me that for people who live in the Asian countries that I visited, the Orient is considered to be countries like Korea, China and Japan. So, let's move on to a combination of those two last countries in the next song shall we? This is another musical connection because of David Sylvian, here accompanied by his old bandmates of Japan.



From the start of this song the Asian sounding drum rhytmes and mystical synthesizer sounds draw my attention. This is also quite a complicated song to my ears, but the Axiom keeps the different instruments nicely separated, while holding the song together as a whole at the same time. Everything sounds right (and very Oriental) to my ears, so this is definitely another compliment for the Axiom.

Now, after this song I'm going to split up the Oriental part in a green and a red corner, just like the EA boxes that I had received. Let's start in the green one.

Axiom 07.jpg


For the next song we move on to a band named Camel. They caught my attention many years ago with their concept album 'The Snow Goose', which was an almost perfect mix of pop, prog rock and even classical music. While telling a great story (it's based on a beautiful old novel by Paul Gallico, just check it out when interested) at the same time.

Another story that inspired this band was the true (sometimes real life is even stranger than fiction) story of a Japanese soldier (Hiroo Onoda) marooned on a tropical island in Word War II, who didn't know that the war already was over for many years to follow. The (also concept) album title 'Nude' is based on his family name 'Onoda'. I can only imagine that he lived there, mainly surrounded by trees and bushes, while hiding for all this years. So, that's why I selected it for the green corner. Please have a listen to these two instrumental songs that appear on that (combination of pop and prog rock) album:



'Docks' starts off with an incredible deep bass line, which is very well reproduced by the Axioms dynamic (no BA can pull this off imo) driver. Soon after that a (like imaginary seagulls sounding) guitar cries away in the distance, both left and right during the song. Again proving that the Axiom delivers a very good soundstage width. But at around 01:45 in the song, there are also some trumpets that show the Axioms Achilles (and no, we're not returning to Greece here) heel, which is its slightly rolled off treble. In the second part 'Beached' (which starts at around 03:50) the song becomes more chaotic and complicated with multiple instruments fighting for attention. But as to be expected, the Axiom has no trouble with that (imaging and separation) at all. I've listened to these songs quite often in my life (as 'Nude' is one of my favorite albums) and I can honestly say that I also enjoyed it to the max this time.

And as we're still in the visual 'green corner', I also would like to make some short comparisons between the Axiom and my universal IEMs over here.

Axiom 08.jpg


Campfire Andromeda (in the back)
The Andromeda (I've got the original version) has 5x balanced armature drivers inside. Its (especially mid) lows are pretty good, but still no match to the Axioms more holographic sounding (sub)lows. Andro has a very wide soundstage and better treble. It has a kind of fun tuned, but slightly artificial flavour to its signature. Axiom sounds more natural and delivers more beautiful sounding vocals to my ears.

EarSonics Onyx (in the middle)
This to me was the most interesting comparison out of all, because both are hybrid IEMs with one dynamic and multiple (Axiom 2x, Onyx 3x) BA drivers inside. The Onyx has a bit warmer and darker tonality compared to the Axiom. It also delivers more rumble in the (sub)lows, where the Axiom seems to deliver a bit more clarity and airy feeling in its imaging instead. Soundstage width is about the same to my ears, but Onyx seems to have a more holographic (3D) sound to its signature. But on the other side, Axiom delivers slightly better imaging and separation to my ears. Although these 2 IEMs have quite some things in common in their sound signature, I'm sure that they both will get enough playtime in my future rotation listening sessions.

Campfire Vega (in the front)
The Vega (also the original version) only has one dynamic driver inside. Maybe because of this it sounds less impressive and less balanced than the Axiom to me. Both can reproduce very good (sub)lows, where the Axiom has more clarity to its signature overall. Also here the Axiom delivers better vocals, imaging and separation imo.

After the above comparisons we move on to the red corner, which I mainly associated with Oriental passion and spiritual inner peace.

Axiom 09.jpg


Another memory from my youth, is that I was highly intrigued by the legendary TV serie 'Kung Fu', starring David Carradine as a mysterious Oriental hero who travelled though the Western part of the United States. Apparently Quentin Tarantino was also infuenced by this TV show and because of this the next song has become completely inseparable for me with the legendary fight scene from 'Kill Bill' (Bill is played here by a well aged David Carradine), where 'The Bride' battles O-Ren Ishii at 'The House of Blue Leaves'.



Now, this song just oozes passion to my heart and ears. Right from the start it competely carries me away and makes my heart beat faster. The exciting pumping rhythm of drums and handclaps, soon accompanied by Spanish guitar and trumpets. The Axiom just seems to easily pull it off to deliver all this excitement and passion to my ears. Also left/right separation during this song is very impressive. So, very well done overall! Those last 10 passionate musical minutes just flew by and seemed much shorter to me. What a fantastic song and performance!

And as we're still in the visual 'red corner', I also would like to make some short comparisons between the Axiom and my custom (all balanced armature drivers only) IEMs.

Axiom 10.jpg


EE Zeus XR (on the sides, in the back)
One thing that these IEMs share, is that they have the abbility to change their tuning. The Zeus XR is limited to 2 options (with a build-in switch) though, where the Axiom has the perspective to deliver more signature flavours in the near future. For the rest these two are completely different sounding IEMs. The Zeus is highly analytical with very good treble and (micro)detail reproduction. Where the Axiom has a more natural and smooth, musical signature to it. Zeus soundstage is extremely good (both width and depth). But Axioms lows are much better, because of the dynamic driver inside.

EE Phantom (on the sides, in the front)
The signature of the Phantom comes closer to that of the Axiom then Zeus. The Phantom also has a more natural and less analytical way of delivering sound. Both have a bit recessed treble and both can do vocals very well. The lows of the Axiom are better again because of the DD. Soundstage is about the same here. I would say that both are more all-rounders than specialists.

Rhapsodio Solar (central, in the back)
From all the BA customs that I have the Solar has without a doubt the best lows. But also this time the Axiom sounds better and more holographic (same story all over again) because of its DD. The signature of the Solar is also a bit V shaped and very dynamic, so it has more similarities with the Axioms black (OG) modules signature, then with the silver modules one.

Warbler Prelude (central, in the front)
What the Prelude and Axiom share imo, is that they are both very capable of delivering vocals in a beautiful and intense, emotional way. Besides that they both perform extremely well in the imaging and (left/right) separation departments. Prelude has better treble though, where Axiom has (yes, you guessed it right) much better lows.


Conclusion and the end of a journey

So, while we're reaching the end of this review, it's time to share my thoughts on the Axiom in some summarized (TL;DR) kind of way and also to decide on the number of stars that it should end up with imo.

First of all: I do think that the Axiom as I received it (incl. the silver modules) already is a very good sounding IEM. I think that it delivers great (sub)lows, soundstage width and its imaging and (left\right) separation works very well for me. Besides that, I really do like how (natural and intense) vocals sound, using the silver modules. However for me there's also still some room for improvement in the treble and soundstage depth departments.

Now, for me the silicone ePro tips turned out just fine and the absence of an included stock cable wasn't an issue for me at all, as I already had quite a collection over here. But for an IEM newbie, who doesn't have alternative eartips or (spare) cables lying around, I can totally imagine that this might lead to some frustration. And regarding cables: now that I have finished this review, I decided to use the EVO 10 for the upcomming time on the Axiom, as I also seriously like that synergy combination a lot.

Personally, I appreciated the creative (although basic) packaging and I loved the design of the Axiom itself. However its strongest point imo is its modular concept. It also makes me very curious about the modules that might follow in the (hopefully near) future. It has so much potential, regarding different tuning possibilities. And I've read that there even might be a Bluetooth module later on as well. On top of that, there's also an upgraded version (The Axiom XP, already shown on EA's site) on the horizon. So, I do think that the Axioms future looks very bright at this moment!

Oh, one important thing that I haven't even mentioned in this review before, is that I noticed that the Axiom really scaled up when using higher quality files. When you feed it crappy (low bitrate or badly produced) files, the Axiom will surely make you hear the flaws in those. But when you feed it high quality files (I've got quite some DSD and 24bit FLAC albums on my daps over here), then it seriously scales up and will leave you amazed how good these files can sound.

So, how many stars does the Axiom deserve at this moment imho? Although I was in doubt for a long time between 4½ or 5 stars, because it already does so many things very well to my ears. I decided to go for 4½ stars in the end, as there's still the sum of the lack of a stock cable, and the room for tuning improvements in its current two signatures. But like I said, it was a very close call and I think that those 5 stars are already pretty close within the Axioms reach at this moment.

And for those out there, who are interested in even more information about the EA Axiom. There's also this dedicated thread:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/official-effect-audio-axiom-discussion-impressions-thread.961899/

Now let's move on to the final song that I selected for the purpose of this review. Two years after these guys already had 'Walked on the Moon', they also went on some spiritual 'Secret Journey'.



At the end of all these travels I'm still wondering if I've already might have become some kind of holy man myself (unfortunately not yet I guess) that was mentioned in the above song. But many experiences in life (incl. parenthood) should at least have resulted in some kind of spiritual growth, right? So, I still consider this to be an interesting 'work in progress' for myself. And how about you? Well, everyone can be his own judge regarding that in life I guess.

Now we've finally (What? Did I really hear some sighs over there in the back ground?) come to the end of this journey and it has become time to split up and all go our separate ways from here.

GIF 05.gif


Soon after 'The Police' had escorted me back to my car I started to drive...

on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
my head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night...


Hmmm, that was some great song on the radio. And hey, look at that... that seems to be a very nice hotel over there! Hotel Cali...something? Hopefully they'll still have a free room available for me. If so, then I will definitely check in and catch up with you folks later on some day.

Untill then, happy listening to all of ya' out there and please stay safe!!!
Last edited:
ranfan
ranfan
A masterpiece of a review :) I thoroughly enjoyed it, and all your other reviews as well. I'm going to save this page, and put it on my desktop! :cherry_blossom: Peace, and happy listening
Kerouac
Kerouac
Thank you so much for the kind words my friend! It took me quite some time to put it all together this way. Trying to connect all the 'different dots' at the same time, to make it come across as a whole in the end. While keeping the Axiom (which is the subject of course) in the centre of attention.

Oh, and as you mentioned your desktop: most people who read this review will do so on their smartphones I guess. Personally I do think that this review looks better on a bigger screen (we're gonna need a bigger screen = Jaws :smile: ) because of the pics and overall lay-out. Anyway, I'm sincerely glad that you liked it!

Cheers!

Forever8895

100+ Head-Fier
Tiny modules with big ambition
Pros: Interesting idea with modular concept that offers different connector types and very different tuning, BIG bass, relax and fatigue-free tuning, good imaging and separation
Cons: Bass can get overpowering, lack details, no cable with the default packaging, lack information about what is included when purchasing, high price tag
lDgUGKU.jpg


Disclaimer
I received the Axiom as part of the review tour. I'm not sponsored by Effect Audio or received any compensation for my review, or under any influence. I'm required to return the unit after I finish the review.
Thank you Nic and Effect Audio for sending it.
The review is purely based on my own biased music taste.


About me
I'm an Asian guy living in Europe. I'm not a specialist in audio or anything related.
Music is my hobby. 95% of my library contains Japanese music. The rest are some western pop/rock.


About the IEM
Effect Audio is a well-established IEM cables maker. As far as I know, the Axiom is their first attempt at creating in-ear headphones fully from the ground up. They also present here an interesting concept with swappable modules (on the IEM itself) to change the sound tuning and connector type for different cable connectors.


Unboxing
Square is the theme here. The package I received includes a paper box for the IEM, a smaller paper box for a different set of modules, and a cable in a plastic bag.

The first 2 square paper boxes were wrapped in colorful packages, opened by a pull tab running around the box. Once opened, the actual box is presented with simple classy black paper.

jQRGfLt.jpg

gz0cLAH.jpg
BASQ729.jpg

Main box
- A pair of Axiom (with black module pre-installed, this one in MMCX)
- 3 pairs of silicone tips
- An extra pair of swappable modules (with 2-pin connector)
- A small screwdriver for changing the module
- And some plastic cards for warranty and instructions

Second box (will be included with the Axiom purchase)
- A pair of silver modules (with 2-pin connector)
- Another plastic card with QR code for instructions

Z9uSlov.jpg


An additional Thor Silver cable is included for the review purpose

Nic mentioned that a special cable will be included in the future. Because of this, I cannot comment on the performance or the usability of the future cable. But I hope that being a cable manufacturer, they will not disappoint.

In comparison with other offerings from China brands, the presentation here is rather poor, but it does the job well. It doesn’t radiate the high price tag of the Axiom though (1499$ for the IEM - and hopefully that covers a cable in the future as well). Bare minimum is the theme here. But I’m fine with that. A nicer box cannot cover any faults in the actual sound of the IEM anyway, but it also gives buyers a better experience in owning the IEM.


Built, fit, comfort and isolation
When I first put on the Axiom with the included tips, I must say, the included tips suck! They are pretty hard, provide not enough sealing for the IEM sound properly, and cause some discomfort to my left ear. I switched to Final’s tips and it is much better ever since.

The shell is big, but I have no problem fitting them. The nozzles are large and short though, so I advise those with small ears to try them on first if possible. Here we have aluminum as the main shell’s structure, titanium for nozzles, and natural stone for faceplate. The modules are also covered in aluminum. They are pretty well built and elegant. The shell is a bit heavy though, but it does not fall out on its own when I’m walking around. YMMV.

Z70ATP9.jpg


Since I don’t know which cable will be included in the future, I can’t comment on that. The one included for the review, Thor, is pretty well made, soft and microphonic-free. I expect no less for the cable that is included in the future - but this is just my own expectation (more on that later)

Isolation is average, due to the vent for dynamic driver inside the IEM. I can hear the noise, even with music on. The included tips also contribute to some of that as well.


Technology
The sound of the Axiom was generated by a 12-mm magnesium dynamic driver for bass-mids, and 2 Knowles BA drivers for high frequencies. The sensitivity is at 112 dB/mW, so it’s fairly easy to drive. One thing I would like to mention is that the Axiom picks up hisses from sources pretty easily. I couldn’t pair it with the Hifiman Supermini or the Fiio Q1mkII. There was only faint hiss from the 3.5mm output of the Sony ZX300, and totally clean from the QLS QA361, so please keep that in mind when pairing the IEM.

The highlight of the Axiom is the ability to change modules for different cable connectors and also change the tuning. This is not the first IEM with swappable modules, but definitely the first one with different connectors! The module's built quality is very solid and locks in place via some guided tabs and a screw.

BqE2e60.jpg


The idea is you will reuse any cable lying around, regardless of the connector type, but in practice, it was quite difficult to swap the modules. There is a trick to take out the module, whereas to put the module in place, you may need to press down until you hear a click.

I was given the silver module with 2-pin connector for the review purpose, and was told that it will come bundled with the package. The changes in sound result from the modules serving as an extended crossover, so different configurations of that affect the tuning.


Sound
The sound of the Axiom is heavily influenced by the module installed. At the moment, Effect Audio offers 2 different modules: MU (the black one comes preinstalled with the Axiom), and YU (the extra silver module).

To summarise: both modules create a very colored sound, definitely not a neutral/reference tuning. The black module has a strong V-shaped sound, with an emphasis on mid-bass and upper mid/high. Personally, I don’t like this sound tuning at all. There was too much mid-bass that is bloated into the lower mid, but it lacks the punch from the sub-bass. The vocal (both male and female) is super thin and sibilance, also with plasticky high that makes the cymbal sound mushy and unrealistic.

I‘m glad that I managed to swap the silver module in. Without it, I don’t think I could continue with the review. The silver module definitely helps by adding more body to the mid, the vocal sounds fuller and more relaxing. The bass is still quite overwhelming for my taste, however, the whole signature goes toward a more balanced, relaxed, and lush listening experience. My review will mainly focus on the sound coming from this module (with some comparison with the black module occasionally).

In short, I would say the sound signature would work well with EDM or slow acoustic songs. It struggles in fast pace rock tracks or classical music, due to the big midbass hump.

PcRSne4.jpg


Bass
Thick, heavy, and strong were my first impression when I first put the Axiom one. For some reason, I felt like the silver module has a bit more texture and more control, while the black one is more midbass emphasized.

ANTI-HERO by SEKAI NO OWARI, the intro starts with satisfying string pluck. The pronounced midbass did a very good job here highlighting the vibration and texture of the Double bass. The same experience can be found in the third opening of My Hero Academia, Speed to Masatsu by amazarashi. Through these 2 songs, the heavy and lush bass really sets the dark and violent mood. But Axiom's presentation of the intro in The Greatest Show on Earth by Nightwish was what impressed me the most. Its explosive, skull rattling type of bass absolutely blows me away. It's how the Big Bang feels through sound!

On the other hand, this level of bass frequently gets into the rest of the frequency. For instrumental/classical pieces or fast pace live concerts, the low section was emphasized too much that it makes the song feels congested. I wish there was a bit more sub-bass in exchange for midbass, that would help to balance the whole frequency range much better.

Mid
Continue the theme of relaxed tuning, the mid range shows a very smooth vocal, but at the same time can be sibilance. This is way more pronounced on the black module, where the vocal lacks body and gets too sharp, while being lost in the bass.

Switching to the silver module, the vocal is now fuller and more balanced, but I wish there is a bit more detail in the mid-range. For example, in The Greatest Show on Earth, some of the grunt at the highest notes of Floor Jansen is lost. Another example is Night Light by 守夜人, where the midrange is smooth over the little whisper sound. Though I assume this is the direction of the tuning, being relaxed over resolution.

Treble
There's not a lot to talk about the treble of the Axiom, and I think this is the weakest part of it. The black module shows a better treble extension, however, it sounds unrealistic with incorrect timbre. The silver module gives a better timbre, but the definition and the energy of treble are also reduced, thus I frequently crank up the volume to get some more info in this part. I wish there was more sparkle and bite from the upper frequency for high-pitch electric guitar, with the silver module, it feels small and lack proper energy.

Technicalities
Some of the details here have been mentioned above, but I will still mention them again. The tuning goes for relaxing over detailing, thus, the resolution is not its highest strength. Surprisingly, it still manages a very good imaging and soundstage. The soundstage, while not being very large, it has good left-right separation. It's not very deep or high however, making more of an elliptical shape.

Imaging is quite sharp, with good definition between each instrument. Dynamic-wise, it's just at acceptable level, however, considering the tuning, I think it would be alright.

Coherency with the black module is not very good, with BA timbre being present in the high frequency. The silver module presents a much better blend of dynamic and BA driver, however, it can't compete with the single DD.

Pairing
The Axiom is quite sensitive, thus phones can drive it with adequate volume. However, the technicalities improve with better sources.
Due to the nature of the tuning, I prefer pairing the Axiom with a more neutral or bright source to tame the bass. The QLS QA361 with its neutral but smooth sound goes well with the Axiom. The Sony ZX300 gives the bass some extra push, so I don't really like it.

TJ4XWox.jpg


Comparison

FAudio Dark Sky (reviewed here)
Right off the bat, the box presentation indicates a premium product from FAudio. It comes with a lot more accessories but cost 400$ less (MSRP). It's also easier to drive, but not by a lot.

Sounds wise, I much prefer the tuning of the Dark Sky: the bass is more controlled but still quite tastefully emphasized. Midrange has more detail especially at the vocal department, while also having better extension and resolution in the treble. The tuning of Dark Sky plays well with more genres, especially Pop, Jazz, and Rock.

In terms of technicalities, the Dark Sky is a tad smaller in left-right direction, but it is deeper, making a more complete sphere. The imaging and separation is similar between the two. But with coherency, Dark Sky wins hands down, with its single dynamic driver.

Nitpicking
The Axiom would get a solid 4-star from me, even though its tuning does not play well with my music library. At its current state, 1499$ is quite a high price, considering that there's no cable if you buy it directly from Effect Audio. The information is quite lacking and outdated on their website, although I don't think anyone would buy a 1499$ IEM without some research. At the moment, the silver module is bundled with the package, however, I couldn't find any information about it anywhere, only after asking Nic.

Effect Audio could also do better in terms of user manual/instruction. At the moment, I found some problems:
1. There were no instructions inside the box. With the QR code, I was presented with some upcoming news about collaboration, but no proper instructions on how to actually change the module (the same link on each QR code I could find). There was a very short video on their website for commercial purposes.
2. The black module that offers by default with the IEM has 2 pairs for MMCX and 2-pin connectors. The silver one was not so generous - giving only the choice of 2-pin only or MMCX only. I couldn’t find any information about the extra module from the Axiom introduction page on Effect Audio website, or whether they can buy or get the silver module in MMCX.

The biggest problem for me, however, is the lack of cable.
Bringing up the environmental excuse is lame, I would say. If the IEM comes with decent quality cable, then we won't have to throw them away. At the same time, Nic said that they don't have intention to redesign the package at the moment. I understand that there's a certain MOQ for each component order, boxes being one of them, but if you would really go for the environment, then the package should be as small and compact as possible, not spreading into an extra box just for the extra module.

Please note that a special cable will be included in the future.

Conclusion
I am very grateful to Effect Audio for sending me the Axiom for review. It's great to see new ideas coming up, and modular is certainly an interesting direction. However, at the price of 1499$, it will surely encounter some fierce competition from 1000$ IEMs. If you are basshead, and like the idea of swappable modules to incorporate different connectors and especially vastly different tuning, this is definitely a unique combination for you. I feel like the drivers are of high quality and quite capable, so I'm interested in what future modules will bring to the table.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: szore

corgifall

500+ Head-Fier
Bring some cables for this "choose your own tuning adventure"
Pros: Wonderful design, modular sound tuning options. Great detail retrieval. Includes two modules for different sound tunings.
Cons: No included cable(as of this writing). Stock black module is fairly bright. Price?
DSC06725.jpg


I recently reviewed the UM MEXT which is my favorite strange/warmer IEM at the moment right around $1200. After that it's the Symphonium Helios which goes for a better all rounder tuning at $1100. The thing with all-rounder tuning is that you get the best of all worlds but you don’t get a special focus that can make an IEM really special. This is where Effect audio is trying to mix up the norm. They announced the Axiom, a hybrid IEM with the option of using “modules” that will not only switch between 2 pin/mmcx but using different modules will also change the sound tuning of the IEMs. This would allow people to swap tuning modules out if they didn’t want multiple IEMs or if they just wanted a different tuning once in a while for maybe different genres. Unfortunately my review unit was delayed due to the Axiom selling out so while I waited for more to be made, I poked around to get some impressions of the Axiom from other audio reviewers such as @SenyorC review over at his website Acho Reviews to get an idea of what might come of an IEM that doesn’t have a cable included. The Axiom finally arrived after a few weeks and after much testing I’m ready to give my thoughts!! The Axiom uses a hybrid design with a single dynamic driver doing the lows and mids and two balanced armature drivers handling everything else. There is no cable included and the Axiom comes in at $1499. Options for an Effect Audio cable at a discounted price can be bundled as well.

Quick shoutout to Nic from Effect Audio for adding me to the Axiom tour. While I always appreciate the chance to test and review products sent in from manufacturers, it never affects the rating of my reviews.

*I did end up purchasing this set at a discounted price after my review.

The Axiom can be picked up from Effect Audio’s website below.

https://www.effectaudio.com/Earphones/axiom

Onto the review of the Effect Audio Axiom! My personal preference is a hybrid/tribrid IEM where I get good hitting bass and have a detailed treble with decent mids. When it comes to an over ear headphone I prefer a spacious sound with a deep low end, the mids to be more forward and the highs to be a little bright with some sparkle. I listen to a lot of genres but I hover in the classic rock, blues and edm music with some rap here and there.

Gear Used​

IPhone 12 pro with headphone adapter, Hiby R6 2020 and SMSL SU-9 feeding the SP400 amp.

Looks and fit​

I actually really like the way these look. The shell is a little bigger but the metal is smooth and the curves look good. The nozzle is titanium and they did a good job of blending the shell with the nozzle instead of simply having only the nozzle stem section show metal. I also really like the insert of the faceplate too. The website shows an almost brown color but in person it's a nice silver/black/slightly red jade finish insert. Overall, I really like the looks of the Axiom.
IMG_6940.JPGIMG_6939.JPG

Isolation and sound leakage​

The passive isolation is average but this is the cost of having a hybrid design. A little better isolation than some other hybrids I’ve used in the past. The sound leakage isn’t bad either. It’s not excessive for an IEM with DD vents. I still wouldn't use these right next to someone trying to sleep but I would use them on a plane or bus without much worry about irritating the person next to you.

Packaging and accessories​

The packaging is really simple but it's a nice box that has a tab that you pull to slowly remove the top like a pack of Wrigley’s stick gum. Inside the box there are the warranty cards, Axiom(with MMCX installed), 2 pin module, tips and screwdriver. Oh and there is a tea packet underneath that which makes for the nicest smelling unboxing I’ve done. This is a very barebones package. No case or cables included so they figure if you’re gonna spend the money on the Axiom, this isn’t your first rodeo and you probably have things like extra tips, cables and cases laying around. The other package it comes with is the Silver module which has the same unboxing experience except inside are more warranty cards, the silver modules and some extra screws.
IMG_6945.jpg

Sound(overall)​

These final impressions were done off a mix of the Hiby R6 2020 and the SMSL SU-9 connected to the SMSL SP400. These are what the Axiom sounded like to my ears. This was also using the CP100+(large) ear tips from Spinfit. I also used my own DUNU Chord cable for MMCX(black module) and a Moondrop cable/EA Thor Silver II cable for the 2 pin modules(black/silver). Things like ear tip selection, module selection and DAC/amp selection will produce different results and impressions vs what my ears hear on my specific gear.

Black stock module​

The stock module goes for a very “V shaped” tuning that is more treble heavy. The lows have a nice impact while sounding fast and dynamic. The lows don’t reach down super low but the quality overall is really nice. There is a little bit of mid bass boost that gives that area a heavier thump that lingers and gives a longer decay. The mids go for a more clinical and clear sound. Everything has a little extra sharpness and the vocals come through clear. The vocals do get a little sibilant at times, though mostly with female vocals. The vocals are a little recessed as well but I do prefer my vocals a little further away from me personally. The treble is really sharp and almost violent most of the time for me. There is good detail I can hear up top and it never sounds metallic or splashy. It just has a lot of speed and bite which gives things like cymbals too much energy. I have a lot of warmer IEMs so I actually enjoyed this upper sound tuning and I find it fun at times but I would use the silver module mostly if this was the only IEM I had, which I’ll get into below.
axiom.jpg

Silver module​

The silver module goes for a super relaxed and warm tuning which really surprised me. I wasn’t even sure what the silver modules in the separate box were for at first. The lows are fairly impactful with good “slam” when needed. This is a very warm and lushess low end which manages to stay controlled enough but it will blend with the lower mids. I wouldn’t quite call it bleed as it doesn’t overwhelm the mids at all. The mids are relaxed as well and this comes off a little more boring to my ears but the vocals do come closer to the listener vs the black module. Vocals do have really good detail but there's definitely a sense of warmth around the voices. I did find more enjoyment with vocals on the silver module. The treble is also somewhat neutral and not quite what I personally want when it comes to treble sharpness and energy. It does actually pull in details really well and possibly better than the stock module but the overall warmth really shows and the sparkle/bite from the upper notes feel somewhat held back. I personally like some energy and bite from the treble. The black module has more zing/sparkle but since it’s always borderlining too bright, I prefer the treble of the silver module. I actually think this is the module most people will probably pick between the two. Especially if they plan to use this as an “all rounder” IEM.
DSC06669.JPG

Soundstage/Imaging​

The soundstage between the two wasn’t huge but with the different tunings, I did feel I heard some differences. I noticed the silver module had a fairly wide but “in your face” wall of sound which resulted in “ok” depth. The black modules had a better balance in terms of width and depth but both did staging pretty well. Imaging was really good on both modules with the silver module being easier for me to pick out things on the stage at times.

Sensitivity/Drivability​

The Axiom is sensitive and it’s easier to drive in terms of volume output. The Axiom to me is very source dependent and I found the slight sound signatures from source gear to make a decent difference. I was able to pick up hiss on some source devices but even on iFi balanced stuff it wasn’t bad.

Gripes with the Axiom​

I think the lack of a cable is a weird choice. I understand that Effect Audio is attempting to save the planet(and money) by not having a stock cable that “cable rollers” will possibly just toss in the trash but I would still like the option to at least pick if I want a cable or not for free. I will admit I do have a pile of stock cables that I don’t use but I keep them around as back ups. They do however offer discounts on a few of their cables when bundled with the Axiom which I do like. Effect audio did send a really nice and expensive Thor Silver II cable and while I did test the headphones with it, I decided to keep the total price of the Axiom closer to the MEXT and Helios that I hold to high regards. Thus all my final testing was done off a cheaper $50 Moondrop modular cable. I used the Thor Silver cable with both 2 pin IEMs I used for the comparison section. I did use a DUNU Chord cable for the MMCX stock black module.

I would also like to see some more info on their modules. While it was confirmed that the silver module comes with purchase of the Axiom, I couldn't find much info on their website. This isn't the end of the world and I was told about some of the plans for future modules so I expect more info to be available on their website eventually.

Modules to come​

Speaking of modules, I was told that an adjustable bass module would be incoming in the near future that would allow for one to play with the bass levels. Not sure how it will work but they also plan to release a few more modules after that. How soon? I’m not sure but I do look forward to checking them out eventually.

Tip rolling​

The tips that come with the Axiom are simple and an afterthought. I couldn’t get them to make a seal so I said “nope!” and grabbed my bag of Spinfit(skittles) tips and started rolling for a comfortable fit and seal. While I did notice there was a noticeable treble difference with the wider more tips, I played it safe and went with the CP100+ tips from Spinfit. I found that to get me the best balance overall. The AZLA XELASTICS came in second place and those work really well but those are a slightly wider bore and the treble was too bright for me on the stock modules.

IEM comparisons​

I Used the Axiom in its silver module setup for the comparisons. While the black module is a strong treble focused tuning, I simply preferred the silver module at the end of the day.

UM MEXT​

The MEXT is currently my favorite IEM in my collection next to the Clairvoyance. I like the weird bone conductor driver and the vibrating shell that gives a sort of “echo” or longer decay in the mids to lower treble. The MEXT does lack a little detail in the upper treble but it does the bass really well and the vocals are some of my favorite from IEMs in general. The Axiom goes for a good bass and mids but it does the treble better IMO and it just pulls in better detail up top. I still really like the MEXT and I find myself grabbing it for electronic music mostly. I’m using the Axiom more and more however and it’s starting to become my go to for most genres. I think the MEXT is a fun experience with very different tuning tricks due to the bone conductor stuff but between the two, detail retrieval goes to the Axiom.
DSC06729.JPG

Symphonium Helios(from memory)​

I don’t have the helios anymore so it only gets a smaller comparison here but it was a benchmark “all rounder” for me personally that did detail retrieval really well and hovered in the “clear but not bright sound signature”. This was great but due to the uncomfortable fit and giant shells, I couldn’t really listen to them for long periods of time. I love the Helios and it was an achievement of serious tuning from an all BA design that left me wishing it had a less industrial shell design. While the Axiom didn’t have the same wow factor on first listen like the Helios, the Axiom(silver module) does detail retrieval around the same as the Helios but with an overall warmer sound tuning. I don’t have both to A/B test unfortunately but I loved the sound from the Helios and I love the sound from the Axiom off the silver module so while I can’t pick a favorite between the two since it's not fair without having both in hand, I would say try to give both a listen if possible.

THIEAUDIO Clairvoyance​

The Clairs are my favorite tuned IEM to this day still. I am starting to notice it isn’t able to keep up at times in terms of technical performance when compared to more expensive IEMs but I will always love it and probably stay biased towards it forever. Both the Clair and the Axiom with its silver module have a smoother tuning when I listen to them separately. The Clair has a good dynamic and natural tuning that is still clear up top and I find it to be just what I want most of the time. When I A/B test them together it’s a different story though. Going from the Clair to the Axiom results in a much warmer sound from the lows to the mids. Vocals, while warm, come in more detail over the Clairs. While the treble has a little more sparkle on the Clairs, the detail retrieval from the Axiom is miles ahead. I like both IEMs but the Clair comes in half the price and I think it’s great for those looking to move on from sub $500 IEMs but I would pick the Axiom over the Clairs when jumping past $1k.
DSC06728.JPG

Amping Combinations​


HIBY R6 2020​

The R6 2020 is my go to portable for testing gear or wanting a “close to desktop” experience on the go. The R6 is a nice $800 mid tier DAP so I think it pairs well price wise with the Axiom. The R6 continues to give me confidence I’m getting close to my desktop stack in terms of power and sound reproduction. I found the black module to be well controlled and the treble didn’t want to murder me as much as my desktop stack I tested with. I think the R6 2020 does have a warmer signature but not so much that I thought it didn't work with the silver module well. Staging was above average and imaging was good as well. I did get a very faint hiss via balanced when using the black module but I didn’t notice it with the silver module. Overall I think the R6 pairs well with the Axiom.
DSC06727.JPG

SMSL SU-9/SP400​

I hit about 25/99 volume so these are about as sensitive as the DUNU EST112 via balanced. The SMSL stack I use for all my testing performed the best when paired with the Axiom. The stack however was the more resolving source gear and it made for the most violent performance when it came to treble from the black module. The SU-9 did a wonderful job of keeping everything tight and clean. Staging was wide and deep compared to the cheaper dongles I used. I found the silver module and the SMSL stack pairing absolutely wonderful. It’s hard to say what is overkill in terms of powering an expensive(to me) IEM but I got really great results from my R6 DAP so I think a good source in general will do the Axiom wonders.
IMG_6943.JPG

Overall thoughts​

I wasn’t sure what to make of the Axiom at first since but after spending some time with it, I really enjoyed the Axiom and the fact they had modules that heavily changed the sound tuning was a bonus. I find this a neat feature and depending on one's use case scenario, this will make a great single IEM that allows you to play with the tuning whenever you want, or just another IEM one can add to their collection after picking a module they like. I personally liked the silver sound module over the stock one and this is how I plan to use the Axiom in the future. I really liked the Axiom and I would recommend it, especially since it comes with both the stock and silver modules which makes for a unique sound experience. I would like to see a “beginner” package of sorts available with a super small price increase for those that might need a simple cable, maybe a carrying case and different ear tip options. I was told right before releasing the review that a “package” was being made to include a cable in the future so this will be nice to see for those who need a cable. Good job to the team on making something different and interesting and I look forward to seeing their next IEM down the road! Thanks for reading!!
Last edited:

ywheng89

100+ Head-Fier
Effect Audio Axiom’s Review - Tweaker's Delight
Pros: Highly Tweakable
Fun sound
Sound signature is very customizable depending on cables pairing as well as eartips
Big bass
Good technicaities
Cons: Price
Wear and tear on the modular unit's connection point due to constant plugging and unplugging? (Not really a cons but just a thought)
Effect Audio Axiom’s Review - Tweaker's Delight

Intro

Effect Audio is no stranger to the audiophile community, they are a very well known cable making company. Yes, you heard me right, cable makers. So, is this their first IEM? No, they released several TOTL IEMs previously but most are collaborations, Axiom is the only one where it’s fully developed by EA. What’s interesting about Axiom is that it features a modular unit where you can swap out(depending on availability from EA),each modular unit sounds different.

wW1HyhINu2uoa9skhBmQvt4SfhFn3fp9hAWgmd0Rcbtlrr-7WQFtnXsAKoGprxGtJPgMNH-Ofg3rgknYW5k1xFjbP6EN2fRxcroQYWqN8NI6OVdsZAM3Trkd7Dn7A13IYbm9Hubo



Packaging
It’s no surprise that the packaging came in a very simple package as Axiom is being marketed with sustainable features. The packaging is bare minimum and very minimalist in my opinion. Unboxing the package, you will then find the cardboard box housing the Axiom as well as additional modular unit with mmcx socket, not to mention a very nice and fragrant smelling tea bag underneath it.

Axiom does not ship with a cable despite bearing a price tag of 1499$. Why? The reasoning behind this is again down to sustainability where EA believes that for people who are looking to purchase Axiom, they already have a few cables lying around, be it from EA or other manufacturers.


Specifications
Driver system: 2-way BA-DD hybrid
Drivers: 12mm magnesium dynamic driver with LCP suspension (bass, mids),
twinned FK-series Knowles Balanced armatures (high frequencies)
Linear Frequency response (-6dB): 20 to 16,800 Hz
Crossover frequency: 4,800 Hz
Crossover architecture: Proprietary RC architecture
Impedance: 32Ω @ 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 112 dB/mW @ 1 KHz
Weight (without cable): 10.2 g
MU System Modules:MMCX and CIEM (2-Pin)

Build and Comfort
Axiom is very well built and despite the shell size looking a little big, it doesn’t feel heavy wearing it and I can use it for hours without any discomfort. The faceplate of Axiom features a jade like material, I’m not exactly sure what it is called but it certainly looks very polished and classy.

I have no problem with the fitting, however it might pose a problem for some due to its short nozzle. The stock EPro ear tips works well for me in terms of fit, however it does get a little wobbly after some time and I had to re-adjust it, so I settled with Azla’s Sednaearfit Light in order to get the best fit and seal.

IL4atv9mtiPcYp2vfcr10p9tKQ5VrIcZeMQjyRYlmfb7_wP4hnKDec0ll-klZX6lwzE14wUnFp-YiQsArRdDViOFD-5IvC_CNuvaLuy9iCFT4x7xULB6PRFbb2sxC4G3hL84b-ks


Source
Foobar 2k -> IFi idsd Nano Black Label -> EA Axiom with EA’s Thor 2 Plus 4.4 Terminated(With adapter to SE)
Ibasso DX160 -> EA Axiom with EA’s Thor 2 Plus 4.4 Bal
iPhone 12 Mini -> Apple’s Lightning Dongle -> EA Axiom with EA’s Thor 2 Plus 4.4 Terminated(With adapter to SE)

Sound (Silver Module with Thor II Plus cable)
Upon first listen with Axiom, I am overwhelmed by the sheer musicality that it immersed me with. The bass is big yet it doesn’t sound muddy and bloated. I have tried the black module as well and i preferred the silver one over the black module as i find the upper mids has got more body and also slightly smoother top end compared to the black module, bass is slightly toned down which is my kind of preference as i find the black module’s bass a bit too much to my taste.

The timbre sounds accurate to my ears and I don't hear any BA timbre despite sporting two BAs. Tonality wise, i would say it is leaning towards slightly warm side

Bass
  • Bass is generous in terms of quantity but quality is no slouch either
  • Bass is punchy and the slams are good, very good control and tight
  • Very good extension and transition as well
  • Listening to The Weeknd’s Gasoline, Axiom reproduced the thump of the opening beat in a very smooth way, the bass doesn’t over power any other frequency nor the vocal
  • Sub bass rumbles when it is called for, it’s not basshead level of rumble, i would say just nice in terms of quantity for music enjoyment. This is evident in a Jpop track, SiM’s The Rumbling(Attack on TItan’s Opening), the sub bass rumble throughout the track and doesn’t even over power other frequency like the mids and treble, very very good control
  • The bass has got a very good texture and weight overall, it is fast enough on busy tracks to not let the whole song sound muddy

Mids
  • The mids to my ears are very lush and detailed, listening to Sinne Eng’s We’ve Just Begun is just amazing. The trumpets, piano, saxophones which fell into the mids has got a very good texture and note weight to each of them
  • Female vocal has got a very good texture and it sounded very pleasant overall
  • Male vocal has got equally good texture as the female’s as well
  • There isn’t any bass bleeding into the mids as far as i can tell even on busy tracks like Slipknot’s Duality
  • I do find the vocal is slightly recessed

Treble
  • The treble on the Axiom is smooth and the air and sparkles are just nice (To my taste)
  • It is smooth and non fatiguing, definitely nowhere near sibilant level
  • Detail retrieval is excellent, Zhao Cong’s Moon LIght on Spring River, a chinese orchestra track to be specific, the nuance detail of the sound produced when the finger is gliding through the string instruments
  • In Hans Zimmer’s Why So Serious, at minute 3.30, the part where the sub bass rumbles a little hard and there is a “hiss” like sound and i don’t even have to listen very hard to hear that note compared to other IEM which i had

Soundstage/Imaging
  • Soundstage on Axiom, in fact not just Axiom but any other IEM as well, i personally think that the deciding factor on how big/open of the said IEM is depending on the eartips and also the record itself
  • In this case, let’s talk about the soundstage of Axiom with the said eartips i mentioned before
  • The soundstage of Axiom based on my eartips choice,is not too big nor small, it doesn’t have the “out of head” kind of sensation, but it doesn’t feel very in your head either
  • Balanced depth and height to my ears
  • Imaging is excellent, instruments can be pinpointed easily and the left right channel transition is very smooth and you are able to hear the instruments going from left to right vice versa without having to be very focused on it
  • Instrument separation and the layering is very good, you can clearly hear each instruments clearly without one sounding muffled or attempting to over power each other

Driveability/Amping
  • Axiom is very easy to drive, straight out from phone’s 3.5mm jack is able to produce acceptable loudness
  • However, of course it does scale with better source as it will give a different kind of flavour depending on the source
  • In terms of sounding good, I'm not kidding when I said even on Apple’s Lightning Dongle, it sounded very good and clean. However of course when paired with iFi’s iDSD Nano Black Label, everything is on a whole different level
  • Tried amping it with a Class A portable amp, doesn’t seem to benefit much from it to my ears

Comparison with Axiom’s Black Module
  • In terms of technicalities, i don’t find much difference between the silver and the black module, they sounded more or less similar to my ears
  • Bass wise, i find the black module’s bass response is stronger compared to the silver’s (Which i preferred)
  • On the upper mids, black module doesn’t sound as full bodied compared to silver’s, silver module’s upper mids has got more body on the notes
  • Treble response on black module, in my opinion, has got more energy compared to silver’s. Silver sounded a little bit more tame compared to the black’s
  • Both module has good amount of air and sparkles
  • I’m definitely looking forward to new module that EA will be releasing, hopefully soon, to get a different taste

Final Thoughts
I’m sure everyone’s first thought will be like, This IEM costs 1499$ yet it doesn’t even come bundled with any cable, for the asking price, this is ridiculous isn’t it? That’s my initial thought as well, but as I try to understand the rationale and the target audience of Axiom, it made sense, at least to me. Axiom is marketed with sustainability in mind, and also i believe the target audience of Axiom will not be some new audiophile who’s recently got into this hobby, it is more for a seasoned audiophile or EA’s own group of customers where they already own several EA’s cables or cables from other manufacturer.

I like Axiom because of its tweakability. In fact EA mentioned that the customers are free to craft their own sound signature by pairing Axiom with different cables/eartips to form their own preferred sound signature. I personally have done that and I'm very happy with the result. Sure, at 1499$, it isn’t cheap, but with the modules that EA will be coming up with, it’s like having multiple IEMs at your disposal?

I have not tried many TOTL, in fact this is my first TOTL thanks to the opportunity given by EA. Will I recommend Axiom? Yes, for someone who likes to tweak like me, but not for someone who’s new into the hobby for sure.

If you are interested in ordering a pair, head over to EA”s site below
Effect Audio’s Axiom

udd63xI83N5XIsmL9KI2bYftpp14MFyqdxOd_pvNjVsCidn4dXDM8h5f2QisM8_TYkvIwqAu_g_IxHOMBfI_UdgkH4MPsT82i5wXDEiGRVAhz0u_eT-vdM5r2UyZtpQkMxtGhpmQ


*The unit is kindly sent over by EA on loan in exchange for my review and thoughts. I am in no way under any sorts of influence from EA to produce a positive review, all thoughts and opinions are of my own

7PNbeDYCjqQC5iw273pkPt1sgbUmGigmmJEWJ-zDomdIYldxgu1GRDDoqz5jpAn70L2u1x0Ppk3FUnWNxTHhxW8KU0Gftaovyu6BUKU7udJZy_ko8l1ZH1OiIoi-ame-vSuJBE7Z
szore
szore
Great review!
ywheng89
ywheng89
@szore thanks for the kind words buddy!
ChrisOc
ChrisOc
Excellent review!

SenyorC

100+ Head-Fier
Some great ideas...
Pros: Build, aesthetics, ideas that break from the norm....
Cons: Excessive midbass and sibilance, included accessories, the implementation of the ideas are not as great as the ideas themselves...
AVvXsEhWBiLhF0fe7jB6TtxhlqYM40cSkQXpvRedZ9L85gd0MViTmPlBWVx-PqbsshQAt-6HJnkSTxfroVbvHqlk3rbtBWDQuEQlBVXAcza-pgVIgo7kEMbgNLtrF7CsvbFas8xAS4c01ONs0vVhjtDWqxrIZ5QRKvjLhrZu4NbzdTZ5amkGOLQY0fGPmXPTYg=s2047


The Axiom have been kindly sent to me by Effect Audio as part of the international tour they arranged. The only request was that an honest review of the IEMs was published on Head-Fi. No other requests or comments have been made but, as always, it is good to consider the fact that it has not cost me anything to try these IEMs.

You can find the official webpage for the Axiom here: https://www.effectaudio.com/Earphones/axiom

Intro…

This review has actually been an interesting one to put together, as there are many things that break away from what is considered “usual”. As I have done my best to avoid knowing anything about the Axiom, this has meant that I have had quite a few discoveries as I have been reviewing this set of IEMs. I will try my best to put all of these experiences into this review in a comprehensive way but please forgive me if I jump around a little as we go on. It will probably also turn into quite a long review, so refreshments may be a good idea 😉

Starting with the brand, Effect Audio is a company that is better known for it’s high end cables, with various models ranging from around 100€ all the way up to nearly 4.000€. The cable which I have received with the Axiom I believe is the Cleopatra, which retails at around 800€ (although it is discounted to around 500€ if purchased together with the Axiom). I will discuss more about the cable as we work through the review.

The IEMs, which I believe are the first IEMs from the brand, were released late last year and, together with an even more recent release of the Axiom XP which are not yet available, are the only IEMs on their website. The Axiom have a retail price of just under 1.500€, with the new XP version coming in at a price that has yet to be confirmed but is forecast (according to Effect Audio) to cost around 2.300€.

This puts the Axiom straight at the top of the list of most expensive IEMs I have reviewed, even without factoring in the cable. In fact, the cable is more expensive than the vast majority of IEMs that have been featured on Acho Reviews. While price is not a guarantee of quality, it is something that creates expectation and also means that the smaller details are scrutinised a lot more, at least by me.

Until now, my favourite IEMs have been the Symphonium Helios, which also happen to be the most expensive IEMs I have reviewed, until now. So will the Axiom prove to be a step up?

AVvXsEiTEUTGXpKDUmDB1JyJLs9zaz1hFCDqw-9gGbrCRYEV0ZjWi2kxjYXTvDKm_gcSt_v_8TU0tVlt2vTaN0A8Ra0vFmjtPxZ-FgPqMiMybAz9DFzxLkTo7AgOAmkalSsSpxIOiVgW7KE096SNN4CJkV9T-2L873LBx0tglzm0MqsYorDnMIZDzswYXj4v=w640-h426


Presentation…

The unboxing of the Axiom has been one of the most bizarre unboxing experiences I have had with IEMs. In fact, it is probably the most “different” unboxing experience I have had with any headphone related product.

Inside the usual brown shipping box, I received a black box with a flip-top lid along with a simple plastic zip lock bag, showing the EA logo on the front, containing the cable.

Inside the black box there was a smaller box, sealed in transparent plastic, this time more colourful and with the branding of the IEMs. It may sound silly but it actually took me a while to work out how to open this box. I mean, it’s not that it is difficult to open a box but I didn’t expect it to be opened via a pull tab/wire that runs around the box.

Inside the green box, we get another black box, this time with the logo that you see in the image above. Removing the lid from this box finally presents us with the IEMs sitting inside a cardboard cutout in the centre.

Below the IEMs, in more cardboard cutouts, we find the included accessories. These are a second set of modules (more about that shortly), 3 sets of tips, a small screwdriver and a couple of plastic cards, along with something that also surprised me, a bag of dried flowers instead of the usual silica gel packet.

I actually feel the dried flowers are a nice and original touch, however, the above is all that is included.

Now, I have said many times that I do not complain about the lack of accesories as I prefer the money to be invested in the IEMs themselves rather than a bunch of accessories that I may or may not use, but… when spending 1500€ on a set of IEMs, I do expect a little more than what is included here.

I applaud the lack of plastics used in the packaging and although they could have also used a lot less cardboard (don’t forget that I had to open 4 boxes to get to the IEMs), I don’t really have any complaints about the way these are packed and presented, it is only the lack of contents that I find lacking at this price point.

The reason, according to Effect Audio, that there is no cable included with the IEMs, is that the majority of people will not use the included stock cables and will opt to use an aftermarket cable, so they are cutting down on waste. While I can understand that, and am all for saving the planet by reducing as much waste as possible, I feel that a set of IEMs at this price should be at least usable straight out of the box.

They do state the following on their website: “Please note that every Axiom will not ship with a stock cable. Customers are highly encouraged to reuse whatever they have or may also choose to opt-in to our perpetual Cable Bundle programme.” Their Cable Bundle program does offer a discount on their normal cable prices, however, the cheapest cable they offer to bundle is $291 or in the case of the Cleopatra cable I have received, $599 (reduced from $799), which now puts the IEMs firmly in the 2000€ range.

This is without mentioning the fact that no case is included, only 3 sets of tips in total, and basically nothing that you would expect to find inside a normal set of IEMs at a much lower price point, nevermind 2k.

The Cleopatra cable comes in a zip lock bag as I mentioned. Now I am not certain if this is the actual retail packaging or not, but it would have been nice if they avoided plastic here also and opted for a simple but more elegant cardboard solution.

AVvXsEhlAZ4ofMrnWLHX2geYJMUyhguwBHwUzn8DgViiyz3g-mj975f0tkXhfU-5WWfuu1ij1eUC-Df0NTgs6c3kXW3-x_15jniwguAYsUNeRvJEQhhi9mCQBz-sHnBCA4jLR1syOjQPNsuIaI64Kz1LuDFv9OCEfyH3iDVUlEXbYQnXxY0KcEtB9qjGEjg3=w640-h426


Build and aesthetics…

Let me start by saying I have absolutely no issues at all with the build quality or aesthetics of the Axiom. The IEMs are built using a combination of Aluminium (shell), Titanium (nozzle) and Natural Stone (face plate). They are well built and although aesthetics are a totally personal choice, I think they look elegant and have no doubt that they look like an expensive set of IEMs.

The shape and size of the IEMs is also nice and comfortable, although I did have some issues with fit. I find the nozzle to be rather short and added to the weight of the Cleopatra cable, I always felt them pulling on my ears and struggled to get them to seal correctly. This was solved by swapping to Xelastec tips, which made them much more comfortable for me and eliminated the seal issues.

They are not extremely light weight but they don't feel too heavy when wearing them, especially considering the use of natural stone in their build. According to my scales (which I weigh all IEMs on, as can be seen on SoloSpec), they come in at 10.2 grams per IEM, which is not exactly lightweight.

The Cleopatra cable seems to be very well built but is not my personal choice if choosing a cable. I find it to be rather heavy, creating the pull that I just mentioned, and the outer clear cover is not my preferred choice either, I tend to find them a little sticky.

All in all, in regards to build and aesthetics, I feel that a lot of time and effort has been put into them and it shows.

AVvXsEgJ4Q4zzNPuRRSUpF6xwMKijRp1GztTsj6pqYXbdyVc6xLh-0wSr36jZe42-l0oChzCn-WeFdLrJEYx5V8JBQ69gzyG8E05_qBW7WSYmxYZsnCiGSoS1EIERFZpda6TEEtXQ8hGhH_w8BK5ZASRDWVt7UWAjlGCutQJPNpjau75Zxr4SFy1BSLw0gCn=w640-h426


Sound…

Before getting into the usual sound process, let me mention the included modules. The Axiom comes with two sets of modules, one with 2pin connectors and the other with MMCX connectors.

On the Effect Audio website, they state the following: “The MU (Modular Unit) System stands for our new approach into designing in-ear monitors. Each module houses the connectors and other key electronics within a compact unit. This allows the user to dictate how each Axiom is to be used, rather than the norm of having users adjust to the designs offered by manufacturers.

Stay tuned in the coming days as we strive to unlock additional features with the MU System.


Now, here is a comparison of the Axiom using the two different modules. For these measurements I used cables from a different manufacturer because I have two identical cables that just have different connectors, so the Cleopatra cable was not used for this specific graph:

AVvXsEib3s2vmKYzpf1sM6lJEizgRcESl84_LZ0gMB4mBzZNi3kRot-ixfx7AOGAE9Od7TyJvXACmsu7YZ6FdL5AXS3oNvpS7u4T7DdAiU8v_PIdfb7LAdfhLZVWx1ai2NRpkIYei8N41Z1fO4jVhDTh42IMJJGfYoFySXraj1lMNYO-ET5K6xSraqR-gfnX=w640-h360


As you can see, there is basically no difference between the two (the minor differences can be due to insertion and fit differences on the rig), which lead me to believe that the only thing that changes are the connectors. I actually reached out to Effect Audio and they did confirm that there will be different modules available soon with different sonic qualities but the two included are in fact only different in the connectors used.

While EA say (in the paragraph above) that we should “stay tuned” as they “strive to unlock additional features with the MU System”, I can’t help but feel that at the moment they are including a extra set of modules for no reason in each package (I personally would not use the MMCX having the 2Pin version, and I guess it would be vice-versa for others). Would it not be more cost effective to have just one module included, offering the choice of MMCX or 2Pin at purchase, and maybe investing those savings into including a cable? Or a case? Or something?

Anyway, I digress, as usual, so let's talk about sound.

I have used the Axiom connected to a selection of set ups but most of my listening time has been via the iFi Audio Gryphon, using the single ended output. Although the cable I have received is balanced (2.5mm), I found that I got best results using it on the SE output for reasons that I will mention as we go on.

Starting off from the subbass, there is a fair amount of presence here but as we reach the lowest notes, there is a roll off. This may not be as apparent as it would be if there wasn’t such a large presence of mid bass (which I will get to next), but focusing specifically on subbass, and putting them through the usual test of “Chameleon” by Trentemoller, there isn’t as much rumble down low as there could be, being more focused on the midbass.

Speaking of midbass, I feel that here we have the opposite problem. The midbass is overly present and runs well into the lower mids. They do actually do quite a decent job of staying quite clear and detailed given the presence that they have in these regions, but I can help but notice that they aren’t getting the most out of these frequencies.

Listening to my usual selection of acoustic based music, this additional presence does add warmth to the lower end but it is too much to be considered natural. Listening to things like “Give Me One Reason” or “Crazy”, I found that the low end of the guitars were overly warm and did not seem natural, at least as I am used to hearing them on other set ups. Yes, I know that “natural” for one person is “unnatural” for the next, but all I can do is base my opinion on having heard these tracks hundreds of times on systems ranging from budget IEMs through to higher end planars and speakers (such as Genelec and Meyer Sound set ups).

Things that fall into the more rock side of things, such as Rage Against The Machine or Led Zeppelin, do not come across as being affected as much as the simple tracks that I usually listen to, but I feel that it is more due to the effects being used on the instruments and the fact that other frequencies jump out more, which I will get to in just a second.

The mid range does seem to be a little recessed as we reach the higher end of these frequencies, however, it is not terrible. Vocals can seem to take a little step backwards depending on the presence of the low frequencies but the issue I have found the most is when we start to climb out of the mid range and start entering the higher frequencies.

There is a peak somewhere in this range that makes vocals, especially female vocals, have a harsh sibilance to them that can be quite unpleasant. It is not on every song but it is present on a very large portion of the music that I listen to, along with a large percentage of my test tracks that I use to evaluate IEMs (which you can see here).

I did find that this sibilance was improved (or made worse) depending on the source. In fact, the Axiom does seem to be far more affected by the source than any other IEMs (or headphones) that I have had experience with.

Using the balanced output of the Gryphon, this sibilance was exaggerated quite a bit, making them quite unpleasant to listen to, especially if volume levels are increased (my usual listening levels are quite low). I played around with different sources (Go Blu, BU2, Asgard, Atom, etc.) and found that the sibilance was most kept in check by using the single ended output of the Gryphon while being fed (via USB) from a Shanling M2X. I don’t know why the M2X seems to create less sibilance than when I feed the Gryphon from my PC but that is what I have discovered.

Other than this sibilance, I actually found the treble to be quite smooth, with a roll off in the upper registers that I feel could be improved. It doesn’t come across as dark but this lack of extension is made more apparent by the (excessive?) presence of the mid bass and lower mids. Again, I would not consider these a dark set of IEMs, just a set with a bit too much mid bass and not enough extension in the highs.

As far as soundstage, I find them to be rather good. It is not a soundstage that is huge, in other words it’s not an Arya v2, but it is quite impressive for a set of IEMs. The impression of soundstage is also helped by the fact that the image placement inside said space is also rather good. I had no issue locating and placing instruments, I did not have to strain to be able to separate layers, they just seem to be well laid out and have space between them.

The detail of these IEMs is also good and, although I wasn’t wowed by the details, they do show that the drivers used in these IEMs are of good quality and are very capable of performing very well. I feel that the Helios is more detailed, or at least that is the impression that they give me, but I have no complaints about the details present in the Axiom.

AVvXsEjJj5kjzDbBNKfyMnTtFRsInK3xQueg5fydl3WV1cKXp2EDjW51uMZr6jHCHgy_X6enpkmw1eMz0kYvC8EhKMhFlxt9CoH9FCe1PeNIILqTSJSTVePdPPNff3GmPg5BnxT90DP9gfvZmSNNb3bgJ7opmtw6ZuJoBB7Yo6WWJuzLxqhH1fUYiaLDCIVS=w640-h426


Conclusion…

I have to say that I am very grateful to Effect Audio for sending out these IEMs for me to try as it has been a review that has kept me on my toes. Each step has been something that I wasn’t quite expecting and although there are many things that have left me wanting more, I have found that I enjoyed the experience of reviewing something that is so different to everything else that has come across my desk lately.

Unfortunately, different is not always better. I feel that Effect Audio has had some ideas that are very good but not quite executed as well as they could have been.

The build and aesthetics are great, in my opinion, and I feel that they do give a sensation of a premium product, of which I have absolutely no complaints.

I understand where they are coming from with their idea of not including a cable. Yes, it is probably true that the majority of people dropping 1.5k on an IEM will also purchase a cable of their choice to go with it. However, apart from the fact that I would expect something of this price to be usable straight from the box, I would have also thought that a cable manufacturer would have wanted people to get a taste of how good their cables are by including a decent cable in the box with the hopes that it would lead to them moving up in the chain with the same brand.

The removable module is also a good idea in my opinion, when it gets to the point of offering different modules with different sounds, however, including modules that only change the connection method is not really something I see as a benefit, especially when not including a cable. If someone is going to purchase a separate cable, or reuse the one they already have and love, then they already know what connection type they want and just offering the Axiom in either 2Pin or MMCX as a choice when purchasing would be more than enough (in my opinion of course). Either include two different sounding modules with the same connectors or just include one module, with other modules available separately (even if at a later date), and drop the price, or include a cable for the same price.

The sound is not something that has impressed me too much. I feel that they are a set of IEMs that are quite capable and could be made to sound very good with some slight changes in the tuning (which maybe future modules will bring), but at present they are not something that I would choose based on sound alone, especially not at this price. Again, a different module that changes (fixes?) this would be great, but that will add more to the overall price (unless you get to choose the included module upon purchasing) and would mean I would end up with two modules that I don’t use.

I am sorry if this review comes across as negative, which I am sure it does, but at the price of 1500€ (or >2k€ with the cable), it leaves the door open for a lot of critique and focus on the small things that maybe would not be so apparent at a lower price point.

As I said, I like the fact that Effect Audio are thinking outside the box, it's refreshing to come across things that are different, I just hope that future modules and models can expand on these ideas and improve the implementation of them.

As always, this review is also available in Spanish on my blog (here) and on YouTube (here)

rev92

Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Effect Audio Axiom
Pros: Fantastic build
Revolutionary modular design
Good tuning
Fun, bold bass response
Gorgeous design
Cool unboxing experience
Infinite potential with future modules release
Cons: The value is not the best out there
No cable included

Introduction​

Effect Audio needs no introduction for audiophiles that are into headphone audio. They are well-known for their high-quality aftermarket IEM cables, being one of the first brands to commercialize it for good to a wider audience.

It might come as a surprise though, that they’ve just come up with their second IEM release to date – the hybrid Axiom. Their first IEM, King Arthur ($6999) has been a polarizing product ever since its release back in 2019. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as releasing a first IEM and pricing it at $6999 was a risky move, to begin with. Two years have passed and now Effect Audio brings a new product to the market, and it’s a really interesting one, having some aspects that have never been seen before.

Packaging​

DSCF3583.jpg


The unboxing experience of the Axiom is really interesting and polished, hence we decided to cover it in a standalone article that has been released a couple of weeks ago. Nonetheless, this wouldn’t have been an Ear Fidelity review if we’d decided to skip this part, so here’s what has been already covered in the unboxing article.

Looking at the box we can clearly feel the Apple vibe – it’s small, even for an IEM. However, looking at the fact that there’s no cable included in the packaging, and the set of accessories is rather small, it should come as not a surprise.

DSCF3556.jpg


Still, the box is really pretty with an interesting color scheme. The branding looks well-thought and polished. I’m not gonna lie – I really, really like it. The graphics and branding look mysterious and really like nothing else.

Inside of the actual outer box is… another box. It’s always good to have additional protection and more space to put those cool graphics on. That’s not all though. From the very first time I opened them up I was sure I can feel a rather unexpected smell, so I started to dig into the packaging, and I have found…tea. I’m not planning on making an actual tea out of it, but the scent is really interesting. If Effect Audio is going to ship it to normal customers, then I actually think it’s a wonderful idea. Pushing the limits when it comes to the presentation of the product, aren’t they? Nice touch!

DSCF3603.jpg


Design, Build and Comfort​

DSCF3631.jpg


Now, let’s get into the IEMs themselves. From the first moment I saw them on press materials I felt like it’s a beautiful IEM, but now that I have them in my hands…this feeling is even stronger.

The whole construction is made of aluminum and titanium alloys. It feels very substantial in the hand, and the level of craftsmanship is high. The actual faceplates are made of Hetian jade and they look absolutely spectacular, just take a look at the photo above. The nozzle is made of a titanium alloy and should be very resistant to everyday use.

Even though the Axiom is on the heavier side, it fits me just about perfectly. The shells are rather chunky and big, but the overall shape is well designed and simply put – comfortable.
Effect Audio has been using the word “Sustainability” in promoting their new Axiom IEM, and here are a few words about it:

“This is probably the first personal audio product in the world to be designed with sustainable features from the moment of its conception. In addition to minimized packaging and included accessories, this is also the first in-ear monitors in the world to include a Modular Unit (MU) System that promises maximum scalability and user interactivity for years to come.”

DSCF3944.jpg


It’s good that more and more companies start to really care about this whole sustainability theme. There’s one thing though – Effect Audio, THE brand that brought us high-end aftermarket cables…doesn’t include any cable in their latest IEM. I get the idea why, I somehow understand that approach, but I’ve heard more than a dozen people complaining about it already, and having in mind that it’s a fresh product says a lot. It’s a rather controversial decision and I see why so many people are complaining about it – this is a $1499 pair of IEMs, include even your basic model to give people a good start.

Tech​

DSCF3961.jpg


At the beginning of this review, I stated that the new Axiom is an IEM utilizing features that have been never seen before in the market. The most important one is their Modular Unit (MU) System, which lets you swap between MMCX and 2-pin connectors, giving you brilliant flexibility when it comes to cable pairing.
To swap the unit, all you have to do is undo a single screw and choose if you’re going for MMCX or 2-pin, with more variants coming up in the future. This is a great idea that’ll hopefully get used more often. I myself have many aftermarket cables that I can’t use with some IEMs because of a different connector, and this little thing is a lifesaver in this kind of situation.
Effect Audio has been really good in this kind of idea lately, first, they introduced their conX system, which basically made any IEM cable compatible with almost every single IEM on the market. Now, they bring it to the other side of the equation, and because of that, we all have to crown Effect Audio as the connector king of portable audio.
Apart from the MU system, there’s nothing to write a book about. The Axiom uses a hybrid design, with a single 12mm magnesium dynamic driver with LCP suspension for the bass and midrange, as well as a twinned FK-series Knowles Balanced armatures for high frequencies. It’s nothing impressive, but as we all know by now…it’s not the driver count that matters.
Lastly, the Axiom rates at 32Ω impedance and 112 dB sensitivity, which makes it rather easy to drive.

Sound​

DSCF3619.jpg


Effect Audio describes the Axiom as “non-fatiguing” and “reference”, and I don’t think I could agree with those statements. For me, the Axiom is most definitely a V-shaped, high contrast IEM, with a focus on the bass response.

Let’s start with that bass. It is definitely big, hard-hitting, very physical, and very impressive. You can definitely hear that 12mm big driver, as its overall presentation is definitely quite boosted. Don’t get me wrong though, I actually really, really like it. There’s just something extremely pleasant about that thick, roaring bass presentation which at the same time is well-controlled and exceptionally precise. Ever since getting the Axiom, it is my go-to IEM for electronic music, since it offers that high-contrast and very dynamic sound that suits that music genre perfectly.
Speaking about electronic music, let’s take a song called “Alive” by RÜFÜS DU SOL. It is a very dynamic and big-sounding track, that has some great bass passages here and there. I find this song quite unappealing on many IEMs and headphones that struggle with that powerful and somewhat in-your-face type of music, but the Axiom handles it exceptionally.
The bass delivery is boosted, clean and physical, giving you a great amount of fun while listening to this track.

The midrange is slightly recessed and it mainly focuses on resolution and immense detail retrieval. Female vocals might sometimes sound a little harsh, but it mainly depends on the quality of the recording. It is because of the tuning which is actually a V-shape with the boosted bass response and the transition between the higher midrange and lower treble being significantly forward sounding. With good masterings, this kind of tuning sounds marvelous, and the Axiom offers a spectacular detail retrieval, but it’s not too forgiving when it comes to the source material.
A great example is an album called “Unplugged” by the British Trip-hop legends Archive. It is an unplugged live album that is packed full of little details, such as fingers sliding around the guitar neck, vocalists inhaling etc. The Axiom handles this album spectacularly, creating a very detailed and spacious sounding experience.

DSCF3978.jpg


The treble is yet again full of energy and forward sounding. It once again proves the Axiom to be a great choice for electronic music and rock, being an intense and fun type of listening experience. While there’s a certain peak at around 6k, giving the Axiom a quite edgy and harsh sound from time to time, the overall presentation of the high frequencies is entertaining to listen to.
If you’ll choose a well-mastered album, such as Nils Lofgren “Acoustic Live”, you’ll be left with a highly detailed and impressive sound performance. Every little sound of an audience, Nils sliding his fingers around the neck of his guitar, this is the IEM that could show you details that you’ve never heard before. Be careful though, as with badly mastered albums the Axiom could sound a bit too intense in the upper regions of the frequency response.

The soundstage is one of the best aspects of the Axiom. The size of the stage is quite impressive, both in terms of its width and depth. The layering and imaging, while not the best in the price range, are both great and they do give a great feeling of immersion.
While I won’t call the soundstage of Axiom as impressive as that of Unique Melody MEST, it is a good opponent for Fir Audio VxV, Campfire Audio Solaris 2020, and Final A8000. I’d call the overall soundstage capabilities as natural and precise, not being intimate, nor too vast and spacious. It is a good type of staging that complements the overall fun sound signature of the Axiom well.

MU Modules​

DSCF3950.jpg


Surely, the elephant in the room is the revolutionary idea from Effect Audio called MU Modules. Let’s dig into it a little bit more, as it has a feature that I wasn’t aware of, and it can be a surprise for you as well.
See, the MU Modules are NOT just different types of connectors. When I first saw the Axiom I thought that these are to change the termination between 2-pin, MMCX, and some others and that it’ll be basically the only purpose of this new technology. How surprised I was when I found out that Effect Audio is sending me the new modules that are meant to alter the sound of the Axiom.
The first additional module to be released is the YU module. It’s really easy to differentiate it from the OG one, as this time it is silver, instead of black.
When it comes to the sound difference, I was actually quite surprised with how little of the change it was. The YU module has a more organic, warmer tonality with a slightly more forgiving and rolled-off treble response. While both modules offer very similar bass and midrange response, the biggest difference is in the treble performance. While I won’t call it a day and night difference, it is great to see that you can finely tune the Axiom to your liking.
Personally, I stick to the OG module as its more forward and high-contrast sound is more appealing to me. The comparisons have all been done with the OG modules installed, so take note. Changing the modules to YU won’t really change the outcome too much, but it is definitely worth noting. While the Axiom with YU modules is slightly more relaxed and less extreme sounding, it is still a fun provider without a doubt. The difference is there, but it’s rather subtle.

Comparisons​


Unique Melody MEXT

DSCF4713.jpg


Right from the beginning, it’s easy to notice that both of these IEMs are fun providers. It is how they achieve it that makes them quite different though.

Overall, the MEXT is slightly thinner sounding, but it actually makes them sound more precise and it boosts the separation. The bass is more hard-hitting and more physical in MEXT, due to its revolutionary OBC driver. The Axiom however sounds more “normal” and is also great in terms of impact and kick. The midrange is warmer and smoother in MEXT, while the Axiom focuses more on the upper-mid region. The treble has a similar extension, but the MEXT is more relaxed and smooth sounding.

When it comes to the soundstage, the MEXT produces a bigger and more precise image. The Axiom is slightly more intimate, but it also does great job with imaging. Having in mind that the Unique Melody MEST is the best staging IEM that I’ve ever listened to, the MEXT is not an easy opponent for the Axiom to say the least. While it’s not as good, it’s still a good staging IEM.

Cayin Fantasy

DSCF2469xx.jpg


This comparison is really interesting, as both Effect Audio and Cayin are NOT doing IEMs on a regular basis. For both of the companies this is a second attempt into the IEM world, so let’s see who did it better.

Overall, these two IEMs are very different, especially in the tuning department. Starting from the bass, the Axiom is much larger, more physical, impactful. The Fantasy is a bass-light IEM and its low frequencies are a no match for the Axiom, which is much better suited for the majority of music genres and use case scenarios. The midrange is much leaner and sharper on the Fantasy, making the Axiom seem really thick and bold. While the Axiom does a great job with most vocals, the Fantasy shines with female voices, but it lacks body for male vocalists to sound natural. The treble is slightly boosted in Axiom, but the Fantasy is an overly-bright IEM and it comes up as more pronounced, sharper, and less forgiving to say the least.

Overall, the Axiom is a much better tuned IEM that will definitely suit much more people than the more specialized Fantasy. While the build quality of the Axiom is great, I find the overall design and finish of the Fantasy even more spectacular. Having all the aspects in mind though, I find the Axiom to be a safer and simply better introduction of the brand to the vast IEM market.

Campfire Audio Solaris 2020

DSCF2445.jpg


Here is a completely different story. Campfire Audio has been known for making IEMs for years now, being one of the top dogs for years, ever since releasing their highly popular Andromeda.

Their current flagship, the Solaris 2020 has a similar goal to the Axiom, but once again, the approach is different. The Solaris 2020 is the more romantic, richer, and more forgiving sounding of the two. Its biggest strength is its beautiful, lush midrange performance and an overall sweet timbre. The Axiom on the other hand is more dynamic and it’s harder hitting in the bass region. When technical capabilities are concerned, I’d say they play in the same league, providing good detail and resolution, while not being the best in class.

This will come to a subjective approach – if you crave that more romantic, smooth and liquid-like midrange, the Solaris 2020 is going to be a better choice for you. However, if you’re looking for a more fun-oriented, extreme-sounding IEM that will handle metal and most electronic music, the Axiom is your guy. Actually, you could go for both, as the Axiom would be a great choice for your everyday outside activities, while the Solaris 2020 will make your evenings chill and warm.

Final A8000

DSCF2848.jpg


Let me start by pointing out the fact, that the A8000 is $500 more expensive, coming at $1999, compared to $1499 you’d have to spend for the Axiom.

The build quality is pretty simple – the A8000 is still the IEM to beat in basically any budget. It does have slightly sharp edges and it’s both scratch-prone and massive fingerprint magnet, but it just looks spectacular and very industrial.

When it comes to sound, the A800 is faster, more precise, and due to its famous hyperfast sound, it comes out as more technically capable. On the other hand, the Axiom has a thicker, more rumbly bass response and a more forgiving nature. While both are excellent at providing fun, the Axiom is more universal due to its less clinical tuning.

Summary​

DSCF3922.jpg


Effect Audio has been a legendary aftermarket cables manufacturer for many years, and now they enter the IEM market with confidence. The Axiom is a revolutionary modular IEM that is tuned for a fun and engaging experience. With its high flexibility and gorgeous design, combined with a sound signature to enjoy, it surely is a great offering for their truly first IEM. While its price is a little high, the potential of this product will only grow when more and more modules get introduced. For now, the Axiom gets our recommendation, but when (or if) Effect Audio will eventually come up with TWS modules it’ll be a very exciting day for all IEM enthusiasts. The sky is the limit.

Recommended.


Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:

  • IEMs – Unique Melody MEXT, Unique Melody MEST, Final A8000, Cayin Fantasy, Campfire Audio Solaris 2020, Fir Audio M5
  • Sources– EarMen Tradutto, Topping D90se, XI Audio Broadway S, Ferrum OOR, Cayin N3Pro, Cayin N8ii, Fiio M11 Plus ESS, Fiio M17
szore
szore
I agree completly with your sound impressions. I found the fantasy too bright on my M8, but on the desktop Q12 it sounded amazing. I think the Fantasy just needs a lot of power to really shine.

SHOOTINGTECHIE

100+ Head-Fier
EFFECT AUDIO AXIOM - SEASONED AUDIOPHILE'S FRIEND
Pros: Modularity with change in sound as well as connectors is pretty great.
Modules will change sound to your liking, Choose your Pokemon
Great details presented in a musical manner.
Bass and sub-bass is pretty great
Vocals are great especially the female vocals
Treble is smooth and non fatiguing
Timbre is one of the strong points
Tonal accuracy is also pretty great.
Tea smells nice 🤣
Cons: Male vocals are slightly on the lean side.
Treble is non airy and less sparkly, might not be for a treble lover
Layering could be improved
Note edge definition can be better.
Modular side effects of wear and tear and longevity.
No cable and accessories, i can understand the cable but no foam tips and no case😑(plus think about a new guy getting into the hobby)
EFFECT AUDIO AXIOM WITH CLEOPATRA

EFFECT AUDIO
in 2009, was the beginning of a famous cable company . Effect Audio was founded by Suyang while he was still an Electronics and Electrical Engineering (EEE) student and since then has gone up in popularity. In the recent years, it has revived the modularity in the iem cable particularly on the connectors side with their ConX connectors. But with many companies bringing up their game, they also have now delved themselves into iem game with modularity in their mind. Well today we are gonna take a look at their most recent offering in this game with modularity also in mind- THE EFFECT AUDIO AXIOM 😁.

DISCLAIMER- This unit and the add on module was sent to my friend @suman134 & BY @EffectAudio AND thanks to both of them, I get the chance to review it. Well as always, the opinions are mine alone and not influenced by friendship or some cosmic energy 🤣 haha!

SPECIFICATIONS-

  • Driver system: 2-way BA-DD hybrid
  • Drivers: 12mm magnesium dynamic driver with LCP suspension (bass, mids), Twinned FK-series Knowles Balanced armatures (high frequencies)
  • Crossover frequency: 4,800 Hz
  • Crossover architecture: Proprietary RC architecture
  • Impedance: 32Ω @ 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 112 dB/mW @ 1 KHz
  • Weight (without cable): 10.2 g
  • MU System Modules: MMCX and CIEM (2-Pin)
PRICE-

USD $1,499 + CABLE + CASE


UNBOXING-


Not much to say about it. It doesn't depict much as a 1500$ iem unboxing rather a 20$ unboxing. The smell though when opening the box, was fragnant a lot due to the tea leaves inside 😍. Felt like they used the cables packaging for the iem too 😅.
The module's unboxing was very simple too. A cardboard box inside were the modules.
Rest the pics will depict the story.
AXIOM (1 of 21).jpg
AXIOM (2 of 21).jpg
AXIOM (3 of 21).jpg
AXIOM (4 of 21).jpg


BUILD AND FIT-

The build is solid and dense. It's a heavy little iem which fits excellent in my ears. The beautiful faceplate also gives a good little feel of elegance to the iem. They are well marked for left and right and feel solid in hand , wouldn't recommend drop testing though 🤣.

The module change is easy per say but removing them is a bit tough, i broke a nail 🤣. It's supposed to be pushed towards the iem in a direction outside and then it should pop out but not much info about that was presented in the case or on their website. An infographic about this would be great. But it does require quite a good deal of force. The screw to secure it is pretty good but I would have loved to see the plastic edge which goes into iem be changed into metal so it's gonna last longer 😁. One more thing, the module needs to be fixed completely with the iem so there's no gap between them ( just keep this in mind while changing modules).

AXIOM (11 of 21).jpg


CABLE-

There's no cable being given and the reason being - the stock cables go into landfill. That might be the case in some manufacturers in the low end but not in the high end market. A simple effect audio cable should be added as this might show the pairing needed and the tuning that effect audio wanted to get and newbies get a glance at top end cable.

That being said, I do appreciate the whole environmental aspect of this but no body throws away a 150$ cable rather people reuse it 😅.

That said, EFFECT AUDIO did send their CLEOPATRA cable for review of this iem. The cable was excellent 👍. No microphonics, the connectors were solid and the entire cable had a good build that inspired confidence. It's a 26AWG, 4core pure silver UP-OCC cable with beautiful insulation so no kinks 😁.

AXIOM (14 of 21).jpg

AXIOM (6 of 21).jpg


ACCESSORIES-
  1. 3 pairs of tips M/S/L (where is my foam tips and tbh you need to provide something like AZLA sedna Xekaatic tips or EPRO HORN tips with such price range)
  2. Card for warranty
  3. 2pin or MMCX module
  4. No case, nothing else, didn't feel like a 1500$ iem purchase.
  5. Tea packet though i didn't use it 🤣
InkedAXIOM (5 of 21)_LI.jpg


MODULARITY-

It’s a pin system with a small locking plastic extension at the opposite end of cable attachment, this needs a bit of refinement since removing the modules will cause some easy nail rip off 🤣, but it won't fall down for sure.

It's mostly an extension to the crossover design as described in the effect audio thread by @EffectAudio , which changes the sound pretty much.

AXIOM (19 of 21).jpg

InkedAXIOM (7 of 21)_LI.jpg


BURN IN -

Yes it did require quite a few hours to open up entirely and reduce the sharpness in the treble region. But I used it for 15 mins at start took notes and then directly after 49 hours 😅.

POWAHH-

It doesn't require much power though. My N6ii with R01 module was able to handle it easily at low gain 40-55 volume. I did run it through a desktop amp, not much change to be felt , though hybrid tube amps like my Xduoo Mt602 with Sylvania tubes were epic.

NOTE- This IEM is used with-
  • N6ii and R01 (mostly R01 since it adds more naturalism to the iem and also better stage, thicker tonality ensues too and yes much better treble experience 😁) for portable on chair listening experience for the most part of the review.
  • T01 didn't have good synergy and was too lean for my taste.
  • On desktop- N6ii LO and A30s (Burson V5i D) and XDUOO MT602 Sylvania tubes (So beautiful pairing but then low gain on N6ii and also volume at 03 ) has been used.
  • Sometimes LG G8x as a phone source.
  • Tips used were stock ‘M’ sized tips which were a great fit.
  • To make the review a little different, I first picked up the silver module as my module first and then contrasted against the stock module.

SOUND IMPRESSIONS- THIS IS SUBJECTIVE AND YOUR OPINIONS MAY VARY FROM MINE-

  1. THE SILVER MODULE- ITS MOSTLY AN EXTENSION OF CROSSOVER WITH THE PIN SYSTEM (IT WON'T EVER FALL DOWN, ITS LOCKED SUPER TIGHT, WELL GETTING IT OUT WILL BE AN UPHILL TASK (my nails crying) 😅)
AXIOM (13 of 21).jpg

SUB-BASS-
IRON – WOODKID- The big drum begins from 0.15min after an beautiful trumpet solo, With proper seal and some tasty Sub-bass iems, ohh my the rumble from the hits 🤩🤩🤩 Did you think the song is just that , continue this goes on till the very end…Excellente musique ❤️
FLIP- GLASS ANIMALS- From 0.10min , wait for the beautiful textured Synth hits and the beautiful rumble. Lovely music which just gets on better and better and also don’t forget when the vocals comes on from 1.20min , there is the sub-bass still going on 🤩 Feels epic!!! Then the Toms coming on from 2mins dot gonna be another epic with the surrounding support music and the it becomes easily busy 😁 have fun 😊
Truth be told this is something that just captures you. This has a very natural to very slight lean tonality but the tonal accuracy is great. The rumble just moves you to the beats. Energy and dynamics are not left alone here, they go hand in hand with the recording and jump up in volume as the recording demands. Depth (-y axis) accompanies the notes making them feel extravagant. The drum beats among the rumble from 3.00min in "Why so serious- Hans Zimmer" just shows how serious is Effect Audio with their tuning 😍. The microdetails are not kept back at all and are presented with good dynamics, fast attack with a very natural decay. The timbre of the notes are excellent. What I feel is that the notes body isn't very voluminous but the control and rumble just makes up for it. The texture is slightly lacking though. The notes beginning and edge definition is great but edge definition could be improved a bit. But I am noticing that I am nitpicking at this moment 😅. Let's move on 😁
BASS-
SAVE YOUR TEARS- THE WEEKEND- The drums just start beautifully humming from the very beginning with a single kickbass and a snare and a sudden kickbass. This goes on the entire song and gives a good point of reference to compare with other parts of the music and also the vocals.
WOODFALL TEMPLE–REMIX – THEOPHANY -Now this has a lot of things going but the most notable thing is the number of percussive instruments this song has!!! Experience it once to know the different kinds of drums and piano and the multiple small notes – just everything going with so much coherence that it’s a pure heavenly feeling!!! (Don’t worry! I am still alive !!! 🤣)
Nothing can hold this back, with the control and punch it has with its bass. The tonality is natural with very little leanness added to it mostly in the lower mids but the tonal perfection just makes it 😍. Great dynamics and energy with the bass notes. There is a beautiful natural timbre accompanied by fast attack. Notes definition is excellent and they are well separated from others. The hard and sluggish hits are easily distinguished in the "Woodfall Temple - Theophany " in the beginning part of the song. Texture is excellent here and surpasses the sub-bass in that regard. Worrying about bass bleed 🩸 don't be nothing even seeps through 😁. The small microdetails of the side edges of the drums are also beautifully presented with a non piercing sound which has a beautiful supple feel. The body of bass feels controlled having a slightly faster finish, unlike some other DD iems which let it have the freedom more, albeit it will come to your preference at this point. Like my dad loved the mest mk2s bass freedom a lot, but my mom loved the axioms controlled yet punchy feel as for me I love both 🤣.​
AXIOM (9 of 21).jpg
MIDS-
MALE VOCALS- WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER- BREAKING BENJAMIN- The vocalist here has sung his heart out completely and with the beautiful acoustic guitar in the beginning and then the change in guitar to electric guitar and addition of drums from 1.37min makes it a very lovely change.
FEMALE VOCALS- UNINVITED (Album version)- ALANIS MORISETTE- The female vocalist just impresses with their change in her pitch and gasps to add more feel to the song. There is also great charge in pace too with sudden addition to many instruments makes it a good challenge for an iem. With the slight musical ques and big drum hits in the back with the slow piano strokes makes the beginning a truly different difference. Wait for the entire thing to open up from 1.45min and you will be interested with the violin and other instruments just popping in, wonderful 🤩
INSTRUMENTS IN MIDS- WONDER WOMAN’S WRATH- RUPERT GREGSON-WILLIAMS, HANS ZIMMER, - A just beautiful mixture of drums, violins and bass, electric guitars. Wait for the end part of the song, where you can peacefully listen to the piano and violin. In this song, in between the big drum hits, the smaller hits are also present. Plus, check for the guitar placement it’s at the back.
ROUNDABOUT- YES- One of the most separated songs. Multiple things will just come and go in this song. Wait for the pace change in this song with small instrument hits in the song. It gets quite busy as the song proceeds further and further.
Vocals-
Ladies first I guess 😁- Female vocals are beautiful and balanced too. By balanced, I mean the body of the notes and the extension are equally divided but the words feel lushier too, not in a bad way but in an enjoyable way. There is not much air in the words but other smaller details do come through. Some amount of 'sss' do come through but in heavily SSS emphasized vocals like that of "Renee Olstead- Midnight at the Oasis" but it's still so less that i forgot that she had it or not 🤣.​
Male vocals are up there among the best i would say. They have a big body with great emphasis on thickness and notes tonality. Different vocalists are easily distinguished. They also do extend well as the vocalist did in "Calum Scott - Biblical"😍. The reverbs and small nuances do pop up nicely too. They have a slightly less thicker notes feel with less height in the body of the words but in no way they feel constrained.​
Instruments-
Instruments in the mids have great presence. It's mostly a balanced or mildly 'v' shaped signature so yes the mids are forward enough to catch your attention. Tonal accuracy is excellent 🤩with a natural thickness to the notes leaning on being slightly thin in the lower mids a bit. Energy is excellent with very fast attack but very natural decay. Dynamics are beautiful but the note's height difference is not much emphasized. But the notes body, beginning are so well defined along with the edges that it's much easier to define it. Edge definition could have been made better but the exceptional separation 😍 in the instruments are excellent and compensates beautifully for it. There is a small space around the instruments too but the notes exchange/ interaction is slightly less making it pretty bad for compressed recordings. Air around the instrument's notes is less but not a big deal for me. Upper mids are slightly thicker making it a very easy listen 😁.​
AXIOM (10 of 21).jpg
TREBLE-
STAMPEDE- ALEXANDER JEAN- the change in the types of violin and added guitars and the odd percussive instrument is epic to listen to overall. Wait for change in the pace of the music and added vocals makes it a wonderful listen plus the vocals and the violin’s extension is well recorded and gets wonderful.
STAR WARS AND THE REVENGE OF THE SITH- JOHN WILLIAMS- Do I need to say more of this, it's one of the best music tracks there. A beautiful amalgam of sax, trumpets, drums and violin with slight hints of slightly ‘ting’ causing instrument 🤣 Watch for the change of musical instruments pace and addition of bass / thicker trumpets which gives another feel at all from 1.40min. Another change coming in for use with much bigger drums and small transient sounds from 3.20min 😁Further changes are also coming but I won’t spoil it, have fun 😊
Treble is a big smooth baby with utmost subtleness in its presentation as to not make it a sharp experience but keeping all the details. By smooth,I don't mean that the energy is lacking, rather it's brimming with that but not in a peaky way, like a live performance would be. Tonally it's accurate but the notes are slightly on the thicker side. The dynamics are great with great natural timbre. The decay here though, is natural but with a slightly faster attack 😉. Air is missing completely in the instruments, I feel like but the notes separation is so much that it feels a different experience. There's not much extension in the treble region though. The notes height difference is very less overall here but the notes definition in its body and beginning is great. Edge definition is pretty good here than the other parts but feels still held back.​
HEADSTAGE AND IMAGING-
Both of these are pretty great here. There is a wide soundstage with above average height and good depth (- y axis). Stage depth is excellent with good sonic headroom. There is some unnaturally wide feeling sometimes which disengages you off the music sometimes. Imaging is excellent , not too precise but enough to locate the instrument in your head easily.​
SEPARATION AND RESOLUTION-
Separation is top notch. Inter-notes separation is excellent with no overlapping at all, sometimes it's a bit too much making the notes feel too distant 😅. But not much air among the instruments notes. Transparency is good with fast attack and natural decay. Smaller nuances are shown musically and smoothly.​
AXIOM (18 of 21).jpg

  1. THE BLACK / STOCK MODULE-

SUB-BASS-
Now this is freedom to the sub-bass. Very natural tonality with great energy. The rumble of the notes speeds through the head stage without making any effort to mingle with other notes and just feels wonderful. There is a very big dynamic, voluminous body with better definition of the notes. The edge definition is also excellent. There is more texture and the bass notes feel more of a beast. The separation is good but spacing around the notes have decreased. The decay is natural with a slightly slower attack but this let's the bass just rumble through and makes it have a great feel. Timbre as such is very natural too. Depth (- y axis) is more added so you now got a complete package deal. The feel made it my choice among both modules.​
BASS-
Bass is just as lively as the sub-bass. Tonality is natural to slightly on the thicker side but not syrupy 😉yet the tonal accuracy is just exceptional. Dynamics and energy would not hold you back from experiencing the voluminous, rapid hits in "AC/DC thunderstruck". Notes have great definition in the beginning, body and edges. They are well separated to give you a feel of space but not too much so as to make it look too wide and take away the soul of the music. The attack is slightly slower with natural decay giving a beautiful feeling of involved head stage and great projection of the notes. Texture is further added to the mix and it just becomes legendary. Note body has a smaller height but the punch is no less in it. Timbre is not shy too and gives you a very natural feel to the iem. The strong and subtle hits are easily distinguished. No bass bleed either plus the microdetails are not overshadowed, they have a dynamic feel of their own. In short this is a great competitor at this price range and I kinda like this kind of bass more now 😎.​
AXIOM (12 of 21).jpg
MIDS-
Instruments-
Lacking nopes, enhancing yup very much. Tonality is on the natural side with tonal accuracy being right on point. The change in notes height is great given that the dynamics of the iem is great. Notes are also very enhanced and have great edge definition. The subtleness of the micro details is enticing plus now they have a dynamic sound to them which further elevated the feel. The decay is slower than the attack, but doesn't even cause any problem in the instrument's heavy track. Why is that? That's because it has very good separation among the instruments with its notes following the suit. The space around the instruments is knowingly kept less so as to add that engaging feel to the music. Timbre is excellent and natural with good projection of the notes. The upper mids and lower mids now have that proper thickness to the notes that just makes it feel much better. The notes reach higher heights than the silver module with more added texture, but the separation among them is much much better in the silver module with a small side effect - it feels slightly more disengaging.​
Vocals-
I loved both the male and female vocalists' voices here. Female vocalists have that lean and highly extending feel to their voice, with proper distribution of body to extension heights. Vocalists have a greater amount of air in them. Reverbs are much better here. 'sss' in the words are just enough to give you the feeling that the vocalist wants to do it without being sibilant at all and no they are not enhanced. Notes have a greater body to them and sound balanced and not boxed in at all. The thickness of the male vocalists is better felt here than the silver module and the tonally different voices are better felt overall.​
AXIOM (17 of 21).jpg
TREBLE-
Treble is not at all lacking. It's tonal accuracy and balance is pretty great. Notes are slightly on the thicker side but not too much but enough to give you a good feel. They are smooth but have that energy and dynamism in them. They don't seem to be that extended in the treble region and air around the instruments and notes are slightly more than the silver module. The separation is excellent but space around the instruments is very good and doesn't lack in any way. This is further enhanced in the silver module. The notes are balanced and the edge definition is pretty great. Notes decay is more on the natural side and attack is slightly slower. Note height differences are more enhanced here. There is a good deal of sparkle without being overbearing and any hits of crash cymbals or triangles etc don't feel too much.​
HEADSTAGE AND IMAGING-
The head stage is different in both modules. Here it's taller and less wide with less stage depth. But the imaging is kinda similar. The space around the instruments might fool you to think that the silver module has better imaging, but it's just the stage doing its job 😉. Depth is better here though. Layering is good on both modules. The black module is more engaging in a way than the silver module.​
RESOLUTION AND SEPARATION-
Resolution is excellent with good transparency and also the presentation is much subtler overall. There are some dynamics with both the modules but space around them is more on the silver module. Separation is pretty great but much better in the silver module. Spacing is also good but enhanced in the silver module.​

AXIOM (20 of 21).jpg


CABLE CHANGE-

STOCK CABLE - EFFECT AUDIO CLEOPATRA-


Impressions are above 😋 so have a pic instead 😁
AXIOM (8 of 21).jpg


PURE COPPER CABLE - RHAPSODIO RSD HYBRID CABLE-

Using that cable , increased the notes thickness a lot, maybe having a little too much reverb, but spacing around the instruments remained the same, more similar to the silver module. There is slightly more out of control exploding bass but with great texture and no bleed. The reverb is much better and the transparency is also excellent 👌. The notes edge definition is also good but slightly blunted, not extending too much. The separation though is excellent. notes height difference is more enhanced here without sacrificing anything and treble is more engaging, dynamic and has a lot of energy overall. Trumpets now feel like trumpets getting to you 😍. This is much of a more musical, lush and well separated but engageful synergy.

AXIOM (16 of 21).jpg

USING XINHS THE BLACK GOLD HYBRID CABLE- GOLD PLATED COPPER AND GRAPHENE PLATED COPPER CABLE.

Ohh my never thought, this pairing would be great 🤩. This custom made cable made my day with grace but this is very similar to Rhapsodio cable. The notes are not as thick as the Effect Audio cable or the Rhapsodio one, but on the balanced side, the reverb is excellent. There is less separation than both but very respectable for the price. But the notes edge definition is pretty great with a good height difference being felt. Treble is spicy in cymbals, triangles and other fast hit and fast decay instruments and like in a recording will cat- 🐈ch you off guard 🤣. This does make some instruments a bit more spicy but adds more spacing around the instruments. Air is slightly better too. Stage is now closer and more forward, but the width is very similar to the effect audio cable and Rhapsodio one. The transparency is more evident with better dynamics but with subtleness out the door in certain recordings 🤣.
AXIOM (15 of 21).jpg

USING TRN 16 CORE SPC CABLE-

Just for the sake of fun I tried it 🤣. The weight of the iems is more hence the cable tugs easily behind the ears. There is respectable separation and slightly less details and transparency compared to all above. Stage height is great but width takes a good hit overall. Reverb is present but less emphasized. Overall, still a good try.

AXIOM (21 of 21).jpg


COMPARISON-

EFFECT AUDIO AXIOM-

Pros -


Wider stage.
Tonality is thicker in upper mids and treble and mids.
Equal or maybe a bit less transparency than mest mk2 but depends on the module.
More space around instruments
Forward mids
Balanced sound signature
Treble is much better with stock module
Lush vocals with silver module
Modularity with change of sound with modules
Can be 2 pin or mmcx 😁

UM MEST MK2-
Pros -


Taller stage
More dynamic than Axiom, grace.
More stage depth
Better depth
Bass and sub-bass more meatier and punchier
More details overall
Slightly felt more detailed but can be the upper mids talking 😅
Tonality is definitely leaner unless you pair it with R01 and see the powahh of synergy 😍
Better notes separation and edge definition ( 19/20 between them mostly)
Treble presence is better and airy overall.
Vocals are little backwards but synergy matters here more
Accessories are much better and include a good cable.
Price😁

PANTHER AUDIO LEGEND K8-
Pros-


More dynamic
Staging is equally wide and tall
Tonally thicker no synergy needed
Less detail
Thicker notes
Big bodied bass and no sub-bass but mest mk2 and axiom are way better.
Price 😁

EARSONICS GRACE-

Pros-


Wider stage
More musical but requires tips change and synergy with cable
Layering and imaging is excellent
Timbre and instrument tonality is natural and on point
Tonal accuracy is better
Great treble without being bright
Transparency is great
BA sub-bass and bass texture , accuracy and detail.
Price is high
It Needs cable and tips to change for sure.

AXIOM 22 (1 of 1).jpg


SUMMARY-

While EFFECT AUDIO has made a technically proficient iem with modularity concept first being introduced into an iem, they were a bit stingy with the whole accessories thing. But given the module change nicely changes the sound and also, with the stock module these sound great, it gets my recommendation for seasoned audiophiles. For new people to the hobby, start with something else, unless you have another good 100$ to 1000$ USD to spend for cable.
SHOOTINGTECHIE
SHOOTINGTECHIE
@szore Thanks mate !!! Enjoy your silver module, both are great for different genres of music 😁
gadgetgod
gadgetgod
Great review man!! You have given it proper time man, nicely detailed review
SHOOTINGTECHIE
SHOOTINGTECHIE

Sound Eq

Headphoneus Supremus
Effect Audio Axiom
Pros: Neutral with reference signature, detailed with good highs and bass. Wide sound stage, and has good separation
Cons: It’s not a con for me but it is not for bassheads. Fit, for me personally due to my ear canal shape, I had to go through tons of tips till I found the proper tips that suit me which were the Sony IER Z1R silicon tips, I am stressing how important it is to find the correct tips. Also it needs a lot of burn in ( 72 hours )
Background:

I had my share of totl iems which you can see in my profile. The tonality that I like is a full rich detailed tonality in the mids especially for vocals, were I accept no sacrifices what so ever, so if the vocals are not done right then that product is not for me, no matter how good the bass or highs are. Of course I like a good dose of bass as well, and to have details in the highs, but my sole “make it or break it” approval lies in the midrange for me personally, simply cause if the mids are not done right you will not be able to easily fix it through EQ, yes you can address the mids with EQ but usually the results are not stellar


Gears used in this review:
  • Chord mojo –poly
  • Cayin N3Pro in tube mode – ultra linear
  • Ifi pro idsd
  • Ibasso dx160
Tips used:

-Sony IER Z1R silicon tips, size Medium Large

Cable Used:

Effect Audio Maestro


Songs I used:

  • Dave Gahan--- Metal Heart
  • Daft Punk—The game of love
  • Leonard Cohen--- You want it darker
  • Jonsi--- Obsidian
  • Massive Attack--Angel
  • Tool--- Invincible
  • The war on drugs--- Stranger Things
  • Strand of Oaks – Horses at night
  • Dire Straits – Don’t worry
  • Dead Can dance-- Amnesia
  • Felix Marc--- Substance
  • Adele—Hello
  • 21 Savage--- A lot
  • Sarah Brightman-- Hymn

Listening time:

I like to keep things simple and to the point and not drag into writing complex passages. I listed the songs above, which I used for testing, so my impressions will be in reference to those songs. Please pay attention to the tips I used as they made a huge difference compared to all other tips I used, since it’s a short stem and that is usually a problem for me personally, when I tried other tips from for example Final Audio, stock tips and many others, the difference in sound was big for me, this is why again my experience is with using Sony IER Z1R silicon tips. Also note I never rated any totl iem that I tested or owned to be perfect and that applies to even the most expensive iems I own or owned, or the ones I heard that can reach over 4k usd in price.

Bass and Sub Bass: here I used the song by Massive Attack – Angel to test the sub bass and bass, and it was a good impactful experience, the Axiom reached deep into the sub bass, with a good bass punch. It’s not a basshead bass but definitely it will please audiophile members who like the right dose of bass and sub bass. Make sure to find the correct tips, for me the Sony tips were the perfect ones.

Mids: Mids and especially vocals are as mentioned before the most important factor for me in judging an iem. The mids are a bit recessed, were it would be noticed on female vocals more than male vocals. It is neither too rich nor too lean. Leonard Cohen’s voice was a good indicator that it has a good tonality and presence for male vocals. I then played some other songs mentioned above and the experience I had just confirmed my findings, among the songs was the latest song by Dave Gahan - Metal Heart -which again was a good indicator that the male vocals are done in a good way. Then I played Adele’s “Hello” song, as with some iems when she goes into the chorus the experience can be not stellar, but the with Axiom somehow I enjoyed that song, although with female vocals the Axiom could come across as a bit recessed but it worked well with that song


Bass and Mids Important note: I want to keep stressing how important choosing the right the tips are with the Axiom, I had to do a lot of tip rolling. It is really worth it and actually a must to not judge too fast with tips that you usually use, for example the tips I use most are the Final Audio tips, but they did not work for me at all with the Axiom and so did not many others. Till I used my spare Sony IER Z1R which gave me a total different experience from any tip I used. So my advice is do a lot of tip rolling, again others might not get such an experience or have difficulty with tip rolling as we each have different ear canals


Highs: Well the highs, I am so glad that the detail in the highs is to my preferences, it got the extension to make everything sound coherent. Thanks god it’s not a dark iem or a brittle one. You will hear the finest details, without being sibilant. It’s presented in a good way.

Sound Stage and separation: Its soundstage is wide, with good sense of width and has proper depth. It reminds a bit of the soundstage of the Sony IER Z1R. As for separation I wanted to choose a busy track and see how well it handles separation when things are supper busy in a song, so I listened to Hymn by Sarah Brightman, that song is a tough one to enjoy on many iems, as things can sound as an orchestra of mess, but with Axiom the separation was good that it allowed me to enjoy such a track

Speed: Well I love to listen to Tool, their song Invincible has a nice fast kick drum and the Axiom captured that perfectly.


Conclusion:

I want to thank Effect Audio for lending me the Axiom, I hope that Effect Audio does a tour for Axiom XP when it gets released, as it is really intriguing me to give that a review as well. The Axiom is good choice for people who like neutral reference signature

20211212_201634.jpg
20211212_201643.jpg
20211212_201655.jpg
20211212_201719.jpg
20211212_201753.jpg
20211212_201817.jpg
szore
szore
I like to keep things simple and to the point and not drag into writing complex passages. AMEN!
szore
szore
Did you have trouble switching the modules? I got my review unit and it took me about 20 minutes to pry the module off after removing the screw.

gLer

Headphoneus Supremus
Effect Audio Axiom: The Tweaker's Delight
Pros: Solid build quality and comfortable fit
Unique modular system
Powerful, bold bass and lively sound signature
Free teabag
Cons: Modular system not everyone's cup of tea
Lack of accessories for the price
Treble can be too strident for some
Premium price
Full disclosure: @EffectAudio sent me an Axiom review sample on loan, without any expectations other than my honest opinion and write-up. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own, based on my personal preferences, music selection, and mood swings.

Singapore-based boutique cable maker Effect Audio has been a very active company of late. Between new Roman-themed gold-infused cables (that literally cost their weight in gold) and interesting takes on modular connectors (at both ends of the cable), it seems Effect Audio is looking to seriously broaden its horizons.

What better way to do that than release your own set of IEMs? Enter Axiom, a pair of premium IEMs that not only bucks the trend when it comes to what you’d expect to get in the box for a premium price, but also advances the theme of perpetual modularity.

Axiom_01.jpg

The pitch

Axiom is billed as a reference-quality hybrid IEM, featuring one 12mm magnesium dynamic driver for lows and mids and twin Knowles balanced armature drivers for highs.

But Axiom is also different to most other IEMs by virtue of the new Modular Unit (MU) system, user-swappable modules that let you switch between MMCX and 2-pin connectors on the IEM shell itself, and promise to add sound tweaks and improvements to the base configuration with future modules.

The reason for the connector choice: Axiom is only IEM I’m aware of that ships without a cable, ironic considering Effect Audio is first and foremost a cable maker. I get the reasoning here; most IEM enthusiasts, especially at these price points, either have their own collection of cables, or will likely roll whichever cable would have shipped with Axiom anyway.

This follows on from Effect Audio’s stated intention to build more environmentally sensitive products, if you read the marketing verbiage anyway, which means reducing the number of superfluous accessories and packaging extras that ship with Axiom.

Axiom_02.jpg

But to say that Axiom’s packaging and accessories, nevermind the missing cable, are spartan would be an understatement. For a $1,500 IEM, what you’re getting in the box – goodwill aside – is positively barebones. One type and set of eartips (S, M, L silicone), one set of MU adapters, and a screwdriver to affect the module change.

That’s it. No case, not even a raw hessian-milled pouch made of biodegradable compost. You get two plastic info cards (recyclable, I hope!) with QR codes to the user manual and other information, and, wait for it, a bag of exotic tea leaves, for when you’re finally ready to sit down and relax with a cuppa.

Axiom_03.jpg

Look and feel

Make no mistake, Axiom is very well built, using smooth anodised aluminium and featuring a fascinating, highly-polished He Tian jade inlay on the faceplate. What spoils the whole look, for me, is the bulbous MU module that sticks out the back of the IEM like a tack-on, although it appears to be seamlessly integrated into the shell. The result is a rather odd-looking half-moon shell that’s a lot bigger and fatter than a two-driver hybrid would otherwise be; heck I’ve seen eight-driver IEMs with less bulk before.

Despite the bulk, Axiom’s shells are fairly light and admittedly quite comfortable in the ear. The nozzle is on the thick side, but short enough that it doesn’t try skewer your eardrums, and can be worn with a shallow or deep-fitting eartip depending on your preferences. For the purpose of this review I used Axiom with my go-to Acoustune AET 07 and JVC Spiral Dot tips, and had no issues with the fit or seal with either.

Axiom_04.jpg

Each nozzle is protected with a mesh inlay to prevent wax getting into the IEM cavity, and the nozzle base is shaped like cookie batter being poured into a tray, for no apparent reason other than to make it look more interesting.

On balance, then, this is a delicious-looking, well-fitting, well-made IEM, as it should be for the asking price. The only issue I have with the overall design circles right back to that bulbous MU module, and it’s not so much the look but the concept.

A conundrum of concoctions

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of modularity, at least not when it comes to a finished retail product. To me, modularity, especially in audio gear and specifically in IEMs, smacks of wastage – the exact opposite of what Effect Audio has supposedly set out to achieve with Axiom.

In pitching for convenience and choice, trying to cast a wide net to match as many tastes as possible with a single product, what ultimately happens is that you land on a favourite combination and stick with it, at which point any possible benefits of modularity go out the window. Not only does this add to the cost, it also adds to the complexity, and as far as I’m concerned, complexity needs to stay as far away from the end-user experience as possible.

Axiom_05.jpg

The very notion of giving users a choice of different connectors and sound profiles, while possibly being attractive to the indecisive among us, is a solution looking for a problem. It gets worse though – try as I may, I couldn’t figure out how to switch out the MU connector, which seemed intent on sticking firm despite me taking care to remove and not lose the tiny screw that secures it in place (a small storage case for the MU units and spare screws would have been useful here). I’m sure it’s easy enough once you’ve figured it out, just as I’m sure someone, somewhere, is going to end up with broken connectors.

And as for swappable connectors, why? Yes, this lets you use your own cables regardless of termination, but why is Effect Audio not taking the opportunity to promote and upsell their very own, very excellent ConX system, which takes care of any termination issues you might have, even with your own cables?

I’m sorry to say but in my opinion, this ‘simple’ idea is an over-engineered mess that this user could have done without. At best it’s an attempt to reduce waste, but more likely it’s a clever way to get people to try different cables without adding to the base cost of the IEM, and at worst it’s just a strongarm way to get you to buy more cables (but not ConX cables, which are made redundant by the swappable modules).

I can only think that somewhere along the line, everyone in the design department put up their hands with an idea for a new IEM, and in the spirit of inclusiveness, environmental advocacy, and peace on Earth, no idea was left behind.

Axiom_06.jpg

The right stuff

Thankfully, Axiom is more than just pie-in-the-sky and strangely missing accessories. It’s a damn fine IEM, and performs at a level I’d expect at this price range. Is it competitive against similarly-priced IEMs? I’ll answer that later; first I want to cover what you’re actually getting for your money, sound-wise, and then you can decide whether it’s the right IEM for you, cost and conundrums aside.

All testing was done over a three-week period, having first ‘burned in’ the dynamic driver for 100 hours to eliminate any potential variance to the sound profile over time. Effect Audio sent me a Maestro cable from the Vogue Series to use for the review, but believe it or not, the right connector was DOA (confirmed by switching to another cable), so I used my own cable. Oh wait, maybe that was the point…

Sources used included HiBy’s RS6 DAP and @iFi audio's GO blue and xDSD Gryphon, all three of which were more than sufficient to drive the 32-ohm, 112dB sensitive Axiom with ease. Music used included local hi-res and streamed Tidal files across a variety of modern and classic pop from the likes of Lana Del Rey, Heart, Billie Eilish, Sarah McLachlan and Lorde, with a sprinkling of classic rock from Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, and modern instrumental from Max Richter, Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, to name a few.

Tonality

Axiom is stacked in the bass department, with a ton of low-end weight and presence. This surprised me actually, as I was expecting a more balanced tuning, but to be fair, the bass, while big, didn’t crowd out the other frequencies, especially where the bass isn’t baked into the track.

There’s plenty of sub-bass rumble in Lorde’s The Louvre from the big 12mm dynamic driver, but an equally generous amount of midbass. This is not the fastest bass I’ve heard, not the most textured, but it’s not the slowest or flattest either. It doesn’t quite keep up with the bass benchmarks I compared it to, smoothing over some of the tense sub-bass-driven buildup in Hans Zimmer’s Mountains, for example, but it’s better than many others I’ve heard at this price. You might be a cable short, but you definitely aren’t going to be shortchanged by the bass.

Axiom_07.jpg

The midrange is where things get a bit trickier. I’m not an authority on what constitutes a great midrange by any measure; what I generally listen for is vocal purity, vocal clarity, and instrument presence and timbre (or at least realism), and Axiom didn’t fail on any score. Mind you, it didn’t ace them either. Vocals, both female and male, were forward and clear, but Ocie Elliott’s Jon Middleton sounded a touch thin and sibilant on Slow Tide, and Rebecca Pidgeon was a touch more wistful and airier than I’m used to hearing her on The Raven.

There is also a dryness to Axiom’s vocals that will please some people and displease others. I Personally prefer my vocals a touch more organic and natural, and if you’re someone that doesn’t listen to lots of vocal-driven music, the point is probably moot for you anyway.

On reflection, this could be more a factor of Axiom’s BA treble poking around where it doesn’t belong and infusing the DD mids with some glassiness. There’s definitely a hint of the lower treble vocal harmonics being a hair too sharp here, like static on the trailing edge of the high notes. The liveliness up top is also apparent in instrumental tracks, where Daft Punk’s Within delights with its full and rich piano strikes – dampened slightly by the warmth in the bass – but the zing in the ‘tss’ of the hi-hats is a touch too tizzy for my liking.

Overall I hear Axiom to have a steep U-shaped (bordering on V) tonality, with elevated bass, neutral mids, and at least two upper-midrange/treble peaks I could pick out (looking at @crinacle's Axiom graph, these appear to be at 5kHz and 8kHz respectively, with some added air infusion above 15kHz too). It’s not bright per se, but brighter than I’m used to. If like me your tinnitus is triggered by zingy treble, just don’t pump the volume too high and you’ll be fine.

Axiom_08.jpg

Technicalities

Axiom is a competent technical performer at this price point. Stage is fairly wide and spacious with the relative recession in the mids lending more space for the notes to live in. The many overlapping layers in Owl City’s Saltwater Room, for example, never got overwhelming to my ears, and vocals were neatly separated from the electronic effects.

Detail retrieval is also very good, but maybe a touch overdone and unnatural with some sibilance creeping in from the overenthusiastic treble. Still, nothing I found too fatiguing. To explain myself better, it’s the type of detail that I find to be forced rather than real, with highlights getting extra shimmer and ‘spittle texture’ (for want of a less colourful phrase) being a little too coarse. It’s all there in the track, but it sounds like details are pushed towards you in some instances, rather than letting you pick and choose what to listen for. Once again, your own preferences will determine if this presentation is a pro or a con for you.

Overall, I’d say Axiom mixes up musicality with technical acuity quite well. I personally hear it as being more analytical than musical in its execution – generous detail, separation and dynamics but lacking some fluidity and smoothness – which will suit some more than others. I find this to be a disconnect between its bass and midrange tuning, which is very good, and its treble, which is not as good, leading to some coherency issues – and I generally never pick out coherency issues in an IEM.

Select comparisons

Sennheiser IE 900
. While not exactly a 1:1 comparison, given the single-driver design of the IE 900, Sennheiser’s flagship IEM comes in at $200 cheaper than the Axiom, including two excellent cables and a case. Where Axiom makes it easy to interchange almost any cable, IE 900 makes it harder, with proprietary recessed MMCX connectors that, ironically, are perfectly suited to Effect Audio’s ConX system. In fact, it was the Sennheiser’s cable that I used for testing Axiom.

Sound-wise, I hear Axiom to be fuller but also slower and less articulate in the bass, with more midbass emphasis than the sub-bass-focused IE 900. I’ve often said IE 900 has one of if not the best bass presentations I’ve heard in an IEM, and that still holds despite Axiom’s bombastic bass bravado.

Axiom’s midrange is more forward than Sennheiser’s, but also drier and more abrasive, whereas I hear IE 900’s vocals and midrange instruments to be more natural, if slightly recessed. Some take issue with IE 900’s treble, finding it a bit too bright and distended, but it’s positively laid-back compared to Axiom’s zing, at least to my ears. IE 900 is smoother and more linear by comparison, but some will prefer Axiom’s liveliness up top.

Axiom_09.jpg

Sony IER-Z1R. I’ve had the Sony in my stable for about the same amount of time as I’ve had Axiom, and in that time I realised there’s not really any contest here for my preferences. So, I’ll stick to describing the differences I hear and let you guys decide which is preferable. Price-wise, Z1R retails for about $300 more than Axiom, but comes with two stock cables that don’t need rolling, a massive selection of tips, a luxury case, and a premium presentation fit for jewelry. That it can be bought used in mint condition for far less than Axiom is also something to consider.

For sure the Sony is a bigger, bulkier IEM than Axiom, and yet feels far more premium and sophisticated with its mirror-like Zirconium finish and pearlescent faceplates. Fit is hit-and-miss for Sony (it fits me like a glove, but it doesn’t for everyone), so on fit alone it’s much easier to recommend Axiom.

Sound-wise, Axiom again has more bass elevation than Sony, but is also bloomier and less refined. Considering Z1R is now the standard by which I measure all IEM bass, Axiom didn’t really stand a chance here, but for many who prefer the added midbass heft and resulting warmth in Axiom’s signature, it may prove to be a preferable tuning to Sony’s sub-bass-focused, speaker-like bass presentation.

Like IE 900, Z1R is often criticized for its ‘recessed’ midrange, which to my ears doesn’t really add up. I hear Z1R vocals to be far more fluid and natural than Axiom’s, with none of the grain or sibilants in the latter, even though Axiom is more forward and on balance more ‘clear’. Treble-wise, it’s a no-contest. Sony’s combination of custom-BA and super tweeter dynamic treble is silky, extended, airy and incredibly polished, whereas Axiom’s is more lively, zingy and strident. You may indeed prefer the latter, but I can’t say I do.

Axiom_10.jpg

Verdict and conclusion

Axiom is a fascinating IEM. It bucks the trend of set-and-forget IEMs because unlike most IEMs, it expects you to do a fair amount of work before sitting down to listen.

With Axiom, every component matters – you need to find the right cable, and makes it easy enough to cycle through an entire collection if you already have one. You need to find the right tips, because the base tuning might not be to your liking and tips are a sure way of tweaking that. You also need to find the right source; it’s easy to drive with anything, so your phone might be enough, but it’s also sensitive enough to be influenced by source tonality, output impendance and other factors.

In short, Axiom is a high-end tweaker’s delight, which should come as no surprise given it’s made by a company that sells tweaking for a living. If you’re the type of person that revels in variety and choice, and wants every product to give you as much of that variation and as many configurable options as possible, you’ll find lots to like about Axiom.

I’m not that type of person. I prefer my IEMs to be intricately designed from the ground up to give me a very specific experience, even if I have to pay more for the privilege. I find an abundance of choice paralysing and counterintuitive. So perhaps I’m not the right demographic for Axiom, but I can certainly appreciate the intention, and give credit where credit is due for what it does really well.

As such, despite some tuning choices that don’t quite match my preferences, quality is high, harshness is low, and if you love your bass and treble in equal measure, this is an IEM I’d add to the list. Cost no object – it can’t be when you have an IEM this costly that demands even more investment in peripherals – Axiom gives you a malleable base to work with, and if you like the look, feel and overall sound signature, can potentially outlive many other IEMs by virtue of its evolving MU options.

Axiom_11.jpg

TL;DR Effect Audio made some bold choices here, not least the idea of developing an IEM in the first place. Whether it’s more of a sales tool for their range of excellent cables or a serious attempt at creating a new market niche for modular IEMs doesn’t really matter, because if nothing else it adds something new and different in a market fast reaching saturation point. I’m not convinced Axiom is competitive enough at the price point yet, but as a blueprint for future designs, it may be just that.

Last edited:
Redcarmoose
Redcarmoose
Such a spectacular review, also the photography is some of the best I’ve seen!
  • Like
Reactions: gLer
capetownwatches
capetownwatches
Lekker review Boet! :metal:
  • Like
Reactions: gLer
szore
szore
My review unit is home waiting for me, delivered today....Really looking forward to it! Great review.

ChrisOc

1000+ Head-Fier
A Modular design for the future!
Pros: Design concept
Good sound quality
Sustainability
Very good cable
Cons: Lack of accessories
Price
Effect Audio Axiom with Maestro Cable

Introduction

For those not familiar with Effect Audio (EA) they are a Singapore based company, primarily known for their premium cables, I emphasise, premium both in quality and price. In this review, I evaluate Effect Audio’s Axiom In Ear Monitors (IEMs) and Maestro cable.

As an introduction to those who are not aware, Effect Audio appears to have taken a corporate decision to do their part to reduce waste, this has taken the form of small packaging, and in their recently launched set of IEMs (I use the terms IEMs and earphones interchangeably) they revealed their innovative concept of designing their Axiom earphones to have detachable connections and thus a choice of MMCX or two-pin cables. Unfortunately you have to buy the cable separately.

20211217_152713_01.jpg


The Axiom comes with separate modules for connecting MMCX cables and two-pin cables. As I understand it, the decision to drive towards sustainability includes the concept of excluding cables in their packaging. The exclusion of cables in their earphone packaging is, in my view, a very bold move, particularly for a cable manufacturer.

20211217_151126_01.jpg

How this bold move will be perceived by audio enthusiasts remains to be seen. I can imagine a day when an audio enthusiast will mix and match at the point of purchasing their earphones. “I will have the earphones with MMCX, plus (substitute the cable of choice). Arguably that is what we do anyway, but usually from multiple vendors. The worst audiophile “sin” is the cable we never use, is incredibly wasteful.

In my view, the concept is good. Having said all that, my reservation is the lack of accessories (yes, you are provided with a screwdriver for swapping the modules) but no case for use outdoors after you unwrap your beautiful earphones.

Disclosure
I was sent the EA Axiom IEMs and the Maetro cables by Effect Audio on loan, for review. Effect Audio has not made any requests or suggestions nor did they seek to influence any aspect of my review.
All opinions I express here are my own with no influence from anyone. No one has editorial control or influence over the contents of this review. I make an effort to ensure that I give the reader factual information. I would appreciate your feedback.

I am neither paid for anything associated with any review I undertake nor do I have any financial benefit from reviewing any product of any sort. The time I spend reviewing items is my own time for the enjoyment of my hobby.

My setup for this review
I paired the Axiom, at various points, with Samsung galaxy note 10 Plus, Mi Mix and Fiio M11, as my source, and for amplification variably, The HAA FEE HA11, Fiio BTR5, the Littlebear B4X tube DAC/Amp, TRI TK-2, Rod Ran Audio DAC/Amp and Xduoo MT604 tube balanced Amp, using mostly 2.5mm and 4.4mm. I also used Amazon Music, YouTube Music, but primarily UAPP music player.

Form, Fit and Finish
These IEMs bring an interesting innovation to the earphone realm, modular design. One of the novel features is the ability to swap from MMCX to two-pin by simply undoing one screw and swapping one module for the other, so you can change the cable to a different connection type.

It is an interesting concept. I am not sure how many audio enthusiasts would swap cables regularly. In my experience, once you find the cable you are content with and leave it in place. I also find it interesting that the concept should come from a company known for making cables, given the company is reliant on cable sales. Nonetheless, true innovation does not come around often and Effect Audio deserve the accolade for being innovative.

Screenshot_20220104-130445_Gallery.jpg


The Axiom is sturdily and beautifully built of metal, with a subtle and elegant style. There appears to be three coherent modules together, the driver housing, the spout, and the detachable cable connection module (which is the only detachable module at this stage). You then have a choice to have your earphones built as a custom set plus Effect Audio's full range of cables. Truly custom.

The drivers used are, one dynamic driver and one balanced armature driver.

The cable sent to me is the Maestro, from Effect Audio's Vogue series, a braided, four strand copper cable, punctuated by a chrome wire-split to two twisted strands for the left and right ear pieces. At one end of the cable you get a chrome tube shaped MMCX housing flattened on one quarter of the tubular design with the Effect Audio logo etched into each of the MMCX housings. On the other end you get a solid feeling plug with a matching design cue, but this time both sides of the plug flattended, pesumably for better grip.

20220104_130141.jpg


The Maestro is almost a skinny cable, it is not the most supple of cables but it is more than adequately malleable. It has a beautiful copper sheen showing through the transparent sheathing on each of the four tightly braided strands.

At this juncture, I have to declare that I am not yet a convert to the sonic attributes of cables, notwithstanding my philistine position, I love well built cables which I attempt to match with my earphones. I believe a large number of audio enthusiasts, would admit to loving their cables for aesthetics, robustness and feel regardless of where they fall on divide on the topic of the sonic attributes of cables.

Sound
I spent quite a bit of time with the Axiom and I have to say, initially, I thought these sound good but..… Call it burn-in, call it acclimatisation, but they sounded better and better with time. Each time I put the Axiom in my ears I am taken aback by their resolution and coherence. These are a wonderfully balanced set.

Bass
The quality of the two elements of bass, sub-bass and mid-bass, on the Axiom is easily one of the most competent and immersive bass delivery I have heard.

The sub-bass is incredibly visceral and potent. This is as good a delivery of sub-bass as I have heard. The sub-bass impact is not limited to high volume, regardless of volume you feel that sub-bass, a bit more subtlety at lower volumes but nonetheless potent at any volume.

The mid-bass is but an extension of the quality of the sub-bass, no matter what track or to which instrument you listen, if recorded, the bass just registers beautifully with precise definition. What makes the bass standout for me is that to my ears these earphones are not tuned for bassheads, they are simply not intended for dominant bass. However, where the track demands bass, the level of bass that kicks in is immense, so immense that bassheads would be happy with the bass delivery.

The bass is further infused with warmth when using the tube amps.

Rouge by Al Marconi:, has multiple guitars playing gently in the Spanish traditional style, with sparse and soft bass notes, the Axiom renders the track with subtle sub-bass, it feels so reassuringly calming.

In The Dark Nicholas Cole: .
This track is recorded with sub-bass which registers complete with vibration, but only if your earphones are capable of rendering sub-bass to such depths. The Axiom took the track in their stride, complete with visceral sub-bass of the vibrating kind.

Midrange
Mid range does not disappoint, it is not forward but not held back either. Both male and female voices are well presented. Instruments such as the piano, flutes or saxophone give you vivid coherent notes without blaring out at you.

Over smooth midrange is not my taste, and the midrange on the Axiom does not disappoint. It is simply realistic, not placed at the fore, withheld, or smoothed over.

Rio De Janeiró Blues Randy Crawford and Joe Sample:

Bad News - Melody Gardot:

Highs
The Balanced Amature drivers are not electrostatic drivers but on the Axiom the highs are so well executed I do not miss electrostatic drivers when listening to the Axiom.

I am not suggesting that I do not enjoy listening to electrostatic drivers after listening to the Axiom, what I am saying is that they are so well tuned that the BAs gives you bags of sonic information with strain. I have not heard the Sony Z1R but from the descriptions I have read, the Axiom seem to do the Dynamic Driver and Balanced Amature drivers combination at that level of competence.

Look at Me Now - Kool & Klean:

Schindler’s List- John Williams - NL Orchestra:


Timbre

When you hear piano notes or guitar notes, picked, plucked or strummed it is so clear, detailed and precise. It feels like you are sitting with the musicians.

Stage
On the track, "Smooth chilling" [endless waves mix] (I am not into smooth jazz much, but..) at 6.02, there is, in the distance and slowly moving closer, what sounds like feet taping and clapping. It slowly comes in and builds up. I had to take the earphones out of my ears to check what was happening, I thought it was coming from outside the earphones.

That is how expansive the sound can get, of course it varies with the recording.

Brian Culbertson Lights Off: , a delightful track which shows off the instrument separation on the Axiom. The clarity of these IEMs makes the instrument separation on these earphones stand out.

To wrap up this review I would say that is the stand out features of the Axiom, clarity, detail retrieval and timbral accuracy.

Is there anything that would stop me buying the Axiom, unfortunately, yes, the price. At $1,500 not many of us can have first hand experience of what they offer. I am certain a lot of us would appreciate the innovation, time and effort which went into the production of the Axiom if we could, but many cannot, which is a pity.

These earphones make listening to music a pleasure.

Enjoy your music!

Attachments

  • 20211217_152050_01.jpg
    20211217_152050_01.jpg
    4.3 MB · Views: 0
Last edited:
ehjie
ehjie
The Sony Z1R treble is End of game tuned, as good as EST trebles. If not for the Inefficiency of the set (50 Ω), I should've gotten a pair and then goodbye head-fi. lol.
Thank you for the excellent review...
Top